In a consultative meeting on Apr. 9, public and private sectors “held productive dialogue, sharing ideas, strategies and proposals on how to better manage the coronavirus, while keeping the economy afloat,” according to Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion. It was confirmed that business owners will initiate their own COVID-19 rapid testing in their respective companies and barangays as a way to determine the number of people who have contracted the virus and those who have built immunity against it after recovering from the disease.

“By ensuring continued testing and the gathering of more data, the government and other agencies can develop a more strategic and comprehensive mitigation plan. Through this, we can also better help our frontliners—most especially doctors and nurses who are manning the hospitals—and micro, small, and medium enterprises,” says Concepcion, who is also the founder of Go Negosyo, the advocacy of the Philippine Center for Entrepreneurship.

The polymerase chain reaction test (for the detection of live virus in a subject) and antibody test (for COVID-19-specific antibodies in the blood) are the most used methods by global healthcare systems. As these tests and other accompanying public procedures are in line with the standards and protocols of the Department of Health, private sectors will be able to immediately identify infected individuals, implement contact tracing, and gauge the extent of immunity from the virus. Mildly asymptomatic patients, those who carry the disease yet show or experience no symptoms, will also be detected.

“We are now in the process of determining the number of companies who will want to join and support this program in order to screen their employees and help the barangays around them. Sample testing on groups will be done to gauge the level of risk. The rapid testing can identify the number of people who are currently infected and those who have built an immunity to the disease,” adds Concepcion.

Through this assessment, businesses will be able to better develop their internal strategies as well as provide the government with a clearer perspective of the next viable steps. Although the rapid testing is only an initial approach, the disease can be further mitigated once applied on a nationwide level.