COVID-19 Testing: Up-close and Personal

This will be the last column I will have in this very challenging year of 2020.  Many accounts will be written about this year: historical, analytical, political, as well as autobiographical accounts. The pandemic has surely upturned our lives this year and continues to do so. Our small failures and major successes in personally and collectively combatting the virus are equally reflective of our government’s inadequacies but also has a lot to say about our individual actions and decisions on what matters most in protecting and safeguarding ourselves as well as others. 

One of the persistent recommendations coming from health experts is the need to test widely and extensively for the virus and its spread or rate of infection.  There is a lot of testing going around nowadays compared to four or six months ago but not enough as it turns out as the infection numbers continue to increase prompting the government to once again revert Metro Manila and Davao City, etc., into GCQ in January 2021. So, it is important for families and their members to be always on guard against the virus, and to test for COVID if one feels any symptom or exposed to situations where the virus may be spreading. The logic is self-evident if one tests positive: isolate and prevent the spread within your household; separate your meals and paraphernalia from others; even wear masks for people inside a closed room, for example.

My eldest daughter had a bout of the virus scare as she was sickly for over a week. She is a voracious reader who has been following the clinical studies since March and has been our go-to person to clarify COVID-19 red herrings that pop now and then on social media. She has always been the cautious one and the onset of her feeling ill, she isolated herself and kept to the basics advised by the global health officials: frequent handwashing, social distancing, personal logs of temperature and symptoms, and avoiding closed spaces. Then for good measure, she booked a test with the San Miguel Foundation who opened their corporate office parking lot to accommodate a makeshift testing site. 

Booking was easy as one would only need to fill up a form online. Tests were confirmed almost immediately. The cost for a PCR-swab is one of the lowest around, if not the cheapest, at P1,800. I accompanied her to the test and was impressed by how quick the process was – all done safely within the confines of our car. The results were out after 30 hours which is much faster than the three working days they generally advise. They say vaccines are a game changer. However, I believe, commercially available and rapid high-sensitivity test kits will help us get back to a better normal and get those who test positive off the streets and prevent further infections. 

I look back in introspection at my past columns and feel a wee glad to have had the space to highlight heroic deeds of fellow countrymen, lend a voice to the commuters whose journeys back home should be made easier, and continuously call attention to things that can be improved in our society. We are suffering in different forms and ways in this global crisis but the world can be rethought and remade. There is light at the end of the tunnel as the news about vaccines have been very encouraging; we just have to shoulder on and watch each other’s backs until widespread vaccination would be able to create the “herd immunity” that has often been talked about.  In the meantime, keep safe and my fervent prayers for everyone’s good health in the coming New Year.

Peachy Vibal – Guioguio is a PR strategist who has lead communications departments in GMA Network, ABS-CBN, and TV5. She enjoys long drives, taking scenic routes, and finds a thrill going wherever she pleases behind a wheel. She has yet to learn how to replace a flat tire.

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