OFFICIALS are considering the extension of the mass rapid diagnostic testing as the cities of Cebu, Mandaue and Lapu-Lapu have yet to reach half of their target sample size.

The mass rapid tests are set to end May 15, 2020.

As of Tuesday, May 12, it is still at 37.27 percent, according to Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas chief pathologist Mary Jean Loreche.

The tri-city has a target sample size of 39,564, but only 14,747 people have been tested so far since the program started on May 6.

Cebu City has a target number of 17,536 individuals but only 3,570 took the test or 20.36 percent. In Mandaue, there were 6,537 out of 11,632 target or 56.20 percent. In Lapu-Lapu, there were 4,640 out of 10,477 or 44.29 percent.

Out of 14,747 individuals tested, Loreche said 201 need to undergo swab testing, which will be used for the real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

Loreche said these are the samples that were seen to have developed antibodies, which means the person may have an exposure to the virus.

“These are the people who have exposure to the virus but their body were able to fight the virus,” explained Loreche.

“Those who tested positive need to undergo swab test and need to be segregated,” she added.

While waiting for the PCR test results, the concerned individuals need to isolate themselves.

Loreche said there is a possibility the testing will be extended for two or three more days.

She said authorities behind the Project Balik Buhay (PBB) are considering on extending the program.

Loreche added the health workers may do “sweeping extraction” or revisit areas where there were low turnout of people.

If the tri-city fails to reach the 100 target even after the extended days, Loreche said they will try to reach at least 70 percent.

“In advance, we’d like to inform you that we still have two days. We do have plans to have sweeping or extend two to three days more,” Loreche said.

Loreche encouraged the public to participate in the mass testing, as the data gathered from the mass rapid diagnostic test will be used to determine for the next actions of the local government units.

“I encourage again everyone to participate to our program... calling the people to cooperate with us, be a hero," Loreche said.

Loreche also emphasized during the media briefing Wednesday, May 13, the low case fatality rate (CFR) in Cebu City despite having the highest number of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) cases in the country.

As of the May 12 data, Cebu City's CFR sits at 0.78 percent.

The national average of CFR is 6.6 percent. (JJL)