What You Need To Know About Drive-Thru Covid-19 Testing
Is it safe? Is it free? Where do we sign up?
With Covid-19 numbers relentlessly increasing and the demand for mass testing stronger than ever, local governments and hospitals have answered the plea of citizens through the implementation of Covid-19 drive-thru testing centers.
What is a drive-thru testing center?
As the name suggests, these testing centers can be accessed by anyone much like they would order drive-thru from a fast food restaurant. All you need to do is drive by the center and get tested. The process should be finished in 5-15 minutes (plus the time you’ll line up for your turn, of course).
Is a drive-thru testing center safe? Dr. Dena Grayson, a US physician and an expert on pandemics, told Vox in a conversation about drive-thru testing in the US that drive-thru is so much safer compared to walk-in testing.
“You obviously want to provide other options, of course, because not everyone has a car... But what we don’t want to see is a bunch of people flocking to a virus-testing center, walking in, and the few that actually have the disease infecting others around them with it,” Dr. Grayson says. “If people are in their own vehicle, though, it’s much safer. The workers doing the testing are wearing protective gear, and the patient doesn’t have to leave the vehicle. You’re not going to get exposed to somebody who has the virus. You just get tested and you drive off.”
Do you need to take a Covid-19 test?
Mass testing has been the banner cry of many in the last months, especially since the Philippines remains to be the country with the longest lockdown in the world due to the pandemic. But do you need to take a test?
There’s no harm in taking a test, especially if it will give you and your family the peace of mind in these turbulent times. But many who have been lining up at walk-in and drive-through testing centers have different reasons. Some are getting tested so they can go home to the province, while some need it as a pre-requisite for work.
Nonetheless, these drive-thru Covid-19 testing centers increase the capability of the country to diagnose more individuals, detect more cases, and isolate if needed. Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso, who has worked tirelessly to test many of his constituents in Manila City, said, “We're really trying to strengthen, reinforce our approach in mass testing and early detection for proper medical care.”
Back in April, the Taguig local government launched drive-thru testing sites at Lakeshore Hall and Northeast Parking Area near KidZania in BGC. Currently, both sites are operational: Lakeshore Hall every Friday, 3 to 5 p.m.; and BGC every Wednesday, 3 to 5 p.m. Availing the test is free—however, it is only open to residents of Taguig City.
If you are a resident of Taguig and want to take a test, you have to visit Taguiginfo.com to schedule your appointment at the center.
It is also noteworthy that both sites conduct swab tests or RT-PCR tests, which remain the gold standard for Covid-19 testing.
The local government of Manila opened its first drive-thru Covid-19 testing center on July 15 in Lawton, and then shortly after, another center at Quirino Grandstand. Unlike the Taguig sites, Manila’s testing centers are open Mondays to Fridays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., and are available for everyone. This means that whether you’re a Manila City resident or not, you can come to the center to be tested for free. There is also no need to sign up online; just bring an ID and you’re good to go.
The Lawton site is a bit smaller, and could only accommodate up to 200 tests per day. The Luneta site, however, have six separate lanes for four-wheeled vehicles and two-wheeled vehicles (such as motorcycles and pedicabs), and can run up to 700 tests a day.
According to Mayor Domagoso, Manila currently uses a newly procured machine called Architect plus i1000 SR made by Abbott Laboratories, which promises 99.6 percent specificity at 100 percent sensitivity. Mayor Domagoso explained in a statement: “This drive-thru test of ours, mind you, is not like the ordinary rapid tests that yield results called, ‘false positive’ or ‘false negative.’ It has a reliability like that of a polymerase chain reaction or PCR machines, which is currently being used for confirmatory testing of those who test positive in the rapid test kits.”
Results are received within 24 hours and individuals will be contacted for their results. From the window of July 15 to 18, 174 individuals have already tested positive for Covid-19 through the drive-thru testing center.
Other drive-thru testing centers
Apart from local government initiatives like Manila and Taguig, there are a number of drive-thru Covid-19 testing centers located in hospitals around Metro Manila.
The Medical City in Pasig offers a drive-through Enhanced Chemiluminiscence Antibody or ECLIA test and can be booked through tmccovidtest.com. The center operates from Monday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.
St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig and in Quezon City both offer an RT-PCR test via appointment. Call the hospital's Product Information Center at 8-789-7700 local 2677/5104 to book a slot. Taguig have slots from Monday to Sunday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m., while Quezon City from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
Cardinal Santos Medical Center in San Juan offers an RT-PCR test as well, and can be availed via appointment through csmceconsult.com. Their schedule is from Mondays to Fridays, 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. only.