Manila orders free swab tests for vendors

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    MANILA Mayor Isko Moreno yesterday ordered free swab tests for public market vendors as well as mall and hotel employees in the city as part of the local government’s efforts to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

    Moreno’s directive, contained in Executive Order No. 39, was issued a day after the city government opened its second swab testing molecular laboratory at the Sta. Ana Hospital.

    The facility, put up in collaboration with the Ayala Foundation and the Ayala Group of Companies, is capable of processing a thousand swab tests a day.

    Also covered by the free swab tests are restaurant workers, e-trike drivers, tricycle drivers, pedicab drivers, jeepney drivers and bus drivers plying their routes or those who have bus stations in the city.

    “In order to allay the fear of getting infected with COVID-19, there is a need to assure the public that employees of these frequently visited establishments are COVID-free, and thus spur economic activity,” Moreno said.

    “The city finds it imperative to provide the employees of these establishments with free RT-PCR testing as the city’s proactive initiative in balancing health and economy for the general welfare of Manilenos,” he added.

    In the same order, Moreno directed the heads of the Manila Bureau of Permits and Licensing Office, the Department of Tourism, Culture and the Arts and the Manila Traffic and Parking Bureau to “require establishments under their jurisdiction to require filling up mandatory health declaration forms for contact tracing purposes.”

    Moreno said the free swab tests will be done on a regular basis while the free rapid tests using the serology machines acquired by the city government and deployed in its five walk-in centers and two drive-thru centers will continue.

    To ensure full coverage, Moreno said the city health department will deploy teams to do the swabbing.

    As of Monday, September 28, Manila has recorded 64 new COVID-19 cases and two new fatalities as well as 223 new recoveries.