The Senator from Mindanao, my friend Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel “Migs” Zubiri, is stepping up and helping the country in its continuing battle against the deadly coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic.
Following his initial donation of COVID-19 test kits to the Philippine General Hospital through the University of the Philippines – National Institutes of Health early April 2020, he now has donated 6,000 COVID-19 antibody diagnostic kits to hospitals around Mindanao.
Two thousand (2,000) kits will go to the Bukidnon Provincial Medical Center in Malaybalay, Bukidnon;
Another two thousand (2,000 kits) to Northern Mindanao Medical Center in Cagayan de Oro, Misamis Oriental;
1,000 test kits to Caraga Regional Hospital in Surigao, Surigao del Norte;
And, finally, one thousand (1,000) kits to the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
All hospitals are set to receive the donations on the 20th and 21st of April.
Zubiri tested positive for COVID-19 and was able to recover from it. He considered his recovery as his best birthday gift. Zubiri celebrated his birthday last April 13.
* Senator Migs Zubiri’s staff in Mindanao turns over the test kits in CDO
“Kung sa Metro Manila lang tayo mag-focus, hindi natin matatalo itong COVID,” Zubiri insisted. “The longer we hold other regions back from massive testing, the higher the chances that the virus will continue to spread there, even with community quarantine. We can’t afford for that to happen. Dapat maagapan natin as soon as possible.”
The test kits to be donated are the rapid antibody test kits recently promoted by the Philippine President. These kits can be used without testing laboratories.
“I know the gold standard of testing for COVID-19 are the PCR test kits, like those we donated to PGH. But in the absence of accredited laboratories across the country, these rapid test kits will have to do for now,” Zubiri said.
“I am prioritizing these areas of Mindanao, as the DOH has yet to accredit a single testing lab in these areas. This is one of my biggest frustrations, as there is only one accredited laboratory in Mindanao, located in Davao City and nowhere else at the moment. The DOH should cut the bureaucratic red tape and at least focus on regional laboratories and testing centers.”
While Luzon, particularly Metro Manila, holds majority of the country’s COVID-19 cases so far, Mindanao has not been spared from the virus. There have been over one hundred and thirty (130) positive cases in Mindanao as of writing, an alarming number given the limited testing capacity in the region so far.
“So many nurses, doctors, hospital workers back home have reached out to me, asking if there’s a way we can help them. Nasa frontlines sila araw-araw, risking their own well being for us, and yet they can’t get tested because of a shortage of kits. It’s disheartening. I hope some of the test kits that we’re sending out can be allocated for our health workers, so they can continue with their noble duty to our people.”
“We really need nationwide testing. That’s the only way we can properly identify the scope of this virus, and the only way we can begin to eliminate it.