Senate to cover cost of COVID-19 swab tests for staff: Sotto

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 05 2020 04:07 PM

MANILA - Senate President Vicente Sotto III on Tuesday said the chamber would shoulder the coronavirus testing of Senate workers who were required to undergo swabbing after rapid tests found them to be potential carriers of the coronavirus.

Eighteen Senate personnel were sent to medical facilities for COVID-19 swab tests on Monday after their rapid tests in the Senate yielded positive results when the chamber resumed session,

"Siguradong sasagutin ng Senate 'yun kung may bayad," Sotto told reporters in an online press conference.

(The Senate will surely cover that if there's a fee.)

A reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, considered the gold standard in coronavirus testing, costs around P3,500. 

Under the Senate's policy, employees who test positive in the rapid test are required to undergo a swab test for confirmation. 

Sen. Panfilo Lacson earlier said that family members of the 18 Senate workers will also use the rapid test kits for free and will also be required to get confirmatory tests should they test positive.

Sotto did not clarify if the chamber would also pay for the RT-PCR tests of the said Senate workers' relatives.

Senators and staff who will regularly go to the Senate to attend sessions will not have to take rapid testing daily, the Senate President said.

"When we started [the session] lang and when the need arises," he said, when asked about the Senate's COVID-19 testing protocol for its skeletal work force.

The Senate will hold another mass testing for its employees using the rapid test kits Tuesday and Wednesday if the kits are still available, he said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian earlier said that the Senate is also eyeing to tap the Philippine Red Cross for help in testing the Senate's skeletal work force who need to regularly report to the chamber's headquarters in Pasay City to facilitate proceedings.