NTF, McDonald’s join forces to expand Covid-19 testing

NTF, McDonald’s join forces to expand Covid-19 testing

EXPANDED TESTING INITIATIVE. The National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF) and fast-food giant McDonald’s Philippines inaugurate a Covid-19 testing facility at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City on Friday (Oct. 16, 2020). The testing center targets to test 20,000 employees of the fast-food branches within Metro Manila, 1,000 tricycle drivers in Pasig, and other residents from Rizal province and nearby communities. (PNA photo by Joey Razon)

MANILA – The government, in partnership with fast-food giant, McDonald’s Philippines, on Friday launched a public-private initiative to further expand the country’s testing capacity for coronavirus disease 2019(Covid-19).

The National Task Force against Covid-19 (NTF) and McDonald’s Philippines along with the local governments of Pasig and Rizal province inaugurated a Covid-19 testing facility at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig City.

The initiative targets to provide free Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for the company’s employees within Metro Manila along with the residents of the Rizal province, Pasig City, and nearby communities.

About 20,000 crew working in the McDonalds’ branches are set to be tested for Covid-19, according to McDonald’s Philippines president and chief executive officer, Kenneth Yang.

“The safety of our employees and customers has always been at the core of our operating culture,” said Yang, adding that the initiative also aims to ensure the safety of the consumers patronizing their products.

Yang said the company is committed to partner with the government in a bid to promote a smooth reboot of the economy and provide jobs to those individuals hard-hit by the health crisis.

Meanwhile, Pasig City Mayor Vico Sotto said the city’s tricycle drivers will be initially benefited from the free testing since they are the most exposed to the risks of the Covid-19 infection and transmission.

“Sila po yung nasa kalsada araw-araw, sila po yung laging exposed (They are the ones who are on the road every day, they are the ones who are always exposed),” Sotto explained.

Around 1,000 trike drivers in Pasig are included in this initiative, Sotto said.

Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA) general manager Jose Arturo Garcia Jr., meanwhile, said that for the past six months of implementing health guidelines and quarantine protocols, the public has become more responsible in battling the Covid-19 pandemic.

On the other hand, National Policy against Covid-19 Chief Implementer, Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., said the expanded testing program is “very timely” as the third phase of the national action plan (NAP 3) targets to embrace a symbiotic relationship between the public and private sector.

Galvez lauded the fast-food giant for its proactive efforts to protect their workers from the risks posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Ito ay napakagandang halimbawa na sana pamarisan din ng ibang mga business sector na (This is a very good example to replicate by other business sectors) they have to protect their own front-liners, at the same time, they can protect the [confidence] of the consumers to dine-in,” Galvez said, noting the company’s significant contribution to the country’s public-private initiatives.

Galvez also cited that Metro Manila’s 20,000 active cases in September were reduced to only 7,830 at present.

Further, National Policy against Covid-19 Deputy Chief Implementer, Sec. Vince Dizon, attributed the initiative as a powerful tool to winning the battle against the Covid-19 pandemic, while the government is trying to reopen the economy and going back to some semblance of normalcy.

The initiative is part of the government’s expanded testing program covering all workers in the food retail industry which seeks to ensure a safe workplace for every employee and safe dining experience for customers.

According to Dizon, the cost of the Covid-19 test under this initiative will be shouldered by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth). (PNA)

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