The Pasay City government is offering free COVID-19 rapid tests for mediamen covering the city, market vendors, and drivers of pedicabs and tricycles in the city.
The project, according to Mayor Imelda Rubiano, is in line with its campaign to prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease.
“This is another addition in our overall COVID-19 response, especially in the component of preventing the spread of the virus in our city and our people,” Rubiano said.
“These people – the vendors and drivers, and more especially, the journalists – are very much exposed to the risk of contamination because of the nature of their profession which entails their close interaction with the public. So, we need to protect them and the public that they deal with,” she added.
Rubiano said the results of the rapid tests will help the City Health Office to identify COVID-19 cases, if there’s any, among the people to be tested, which will then serve as basis for determining who would need medical assistance and what form of assistance to give depending on the degree of affliction.
All mainstream media entities and social media sites have assigned reporters and crew covering Pasay on a daily basis to relay important information about the city to its residents and the general public.
The Geneva-based international non-government organization Press Emblem Campaign (PEC) said that media workers “play an important role in the fight against the novel coronavirus, even as they face heightened and grave health risks as they pursue crucial stories on the COVID-19 crisis.”
It also reported that at least 127 journalists in 31 countries have died due to the novel coronavirus over the past three months while “several hundred other media workers tested positive for the virus, and some media had to be temporarily closed.”
PEC noted that the number “represents a minimum confirmed tally, and that many more reporters are likely to have succumbed to the pandemic.”
Meanwhile, markets and talipapa (flea market) vendors, and drivers of tricycles and pedicabs are also prone to the virus as well as to transmitting it to others because they likewise closely interact with their clients. About 5,800 tricycles and pedicabs and several hundreds of vendors operate in Pasay City.
The city government recently allowed tricycle and pedicab to operate in the city provided that they comply with health and safety protocols as laid down by the Inter-Agency Task Force on emerging infectious diseases (IATF) such as the mandatory wearing of face masks, installation of non-permeable barrier (plastic or fiberglass) between the driver and the passenger, use of alcohol and regular disinfection of the unit.
The drivers also covered by a color-coding scheme to give equal opportunities for all to operate while at the same time limit the number of vehicles plying the streets per day.
Vendors are likewise required to implement health and safety protocols including complying with the Market Day Scheme to prevent crowding of buyers and give equal opportunities to all city residents as well as clients from other localities to buy their food and other essentials from the different markets and talipapa locations in the city.