OVP launches free mobile antigen testing program to help LGUs detect COVID cases

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 28) — The Office of the Vice President is launching the "Swab Cab" project, a free mobile antigen testing program in partnership with non-profit groups and local government units to help detect COVID-19 cases.

In her social media posts on Saturday, Vice President Robredo said Swab Cab aims to conduct a mass surveillance testing in communities where COVID-19 transmission is very high.

Pilot testing will start in Malabon City from March 30 to April 6.

The project will be made possible under Robredo's anti-poverty program Angat Buhay, with assistance from private foundation Kaya Natin! Movement for Good Governance and Ethical Leadership, and UBE Express, which her office previously partnered with to provide free shuttle service for medical frontliners.

"Magpo-provide tayo ng mobile na parang bus, pupunta doon sa mga communities na grabe iyong transmission, pero may partnership with the LGU kasi iyong mag-a-identify noong mga communities iyong mga LGU mismo, pati iyong kung sino mismo iyong isa-swab," Robredo said.

[Translation: We will be the ones providing mobile services through buses, these will go to communities with high transmission, but this activity will be done in partnership with the LGU because they will be the one to identify the communities and the people who must be swabbed.]

According to Robredo, a surveillance antigen testing would help identify cases, even among residents who have not yet exhibited symptoms. Results will be made available in 15 to 20 minutes. Those who test positive will then be advised to isolate, take a reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction or RT-PCR test for confirmatory results and follow other necessary health protocols.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Sunday that authorities will do a house-to-house search for possible COVID-19 patients in areas placed under granular lockdown, amid the implementation of the stricter enhanced community quarantine in the Greater Manila area starting Monday.

To further increase the country's testing capacity, some 500,000 anti-gen test kits will be procured to augment supply of swab test kits. Currently, Roque said the Philippines can conduct 51,000 tests per day, far from the minimum requirement of at least 100,000 given the latest COVID-19 situation.

READ: Roque: Authorities to do house-to-house search for people with coronavirus symptoms