Hundreds of individuals lined up for the soft opening of Manila’s second drive-thru COVID-19 testing center at the Quirino Grandstand Saturday.
Manila and non-Manila residents aboard various vehicles, such as cars, tricycles, motorcycles, bicycles, and even pedicabs, had waited – some of them as early as before dawn – to avail themselves of the free testing for “peace of mind” and get health certificates to be able to return to their hometowns.
They only brought a valid identification card (ID) to get tested.
In just an hour after the drive-thru testing center opened at about 10:30 a.m., at least 120 individuals have been tested, the Manila Public Information Office (PIO) said.
The PIO expected the number to reach 415 by 3 p.m.
Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso decided to open the second testing center earlier than the scheduled 11 a.m. to prevent the people from waiting longer.
The testing center at the Quirino Grandstand was the second drive-thru facility of the city government of Manila. The first one was launched last Wednesday in front of the Andres Bonifacio Monument near the Manila City Hall.
This came about after National Parks Development Committee (NPDC) Executive Director Cecille Romero let Moreno use the Grandstand to be able to accommodate more people.
“Noong nakita namin ‘yung demand after two days of operation, we came up with an assessment. So nakita namin na magta-traffic sa Lawton, so we came up with an idea (of opening another one),” Moreno said.
The testing center at the Quirino Grandstand will officially open on Monday and will operate from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.
Moreno said that he “is happy” that several members of a family are showing willingness to get tested.
“Pami-pamilya na ‘yung nagte-test. So, nakita mo ang eagerness ng tao na mag-volunteer to have him or her tested,” the city chief executive said, adding that 85 percent of those availing the free testing want peace of mind.
At present, Moreno said the city government can accommodate a total of 700 individuals at the Grandstand and 200 at the Andres Bonifacio Monument.
He added that the city government will expand its testing capacity once it receives its fourth COVID-19 machine.
“Kapag dumating pa ‘yung additional na mga makina namin, on top of the three existing, dadagdagan pa namin ‘yung volume na kaya naming yakapin,” Moreno said.
The city government has three COVID-19 machines – at the Gat Andres Bonifacio Memorial Medical Center, Ospital ng Sampaloc, and Ospital ng Maynila.
They are the ones processing the blood samples taken at the drive-thru testing facilities.
“And it’s free to everyone… We wanted to create a program na medyo inclusive because, boundless, universal problem ito,” Moreno said.
Based on data from the Manila Health Department, 1,131 individuals have been tested at the city’s first drive-thru center for the past two days. Sixty-eight tested positive for COVID-19.
Moreno assured the public that the city government will continue offering the service as long as they can.
“Hangga’t kaya namin, di kami titigil. Hangga’t may COVID, tuloy tuloy. Hangga’t may pera kami, tuloy tuloy,” he said. (Joseph Pedrajas)