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More test kits for deadly virus arriving

/ 04:20 AM March 21, 2020

Thousands of test kits to detect infection of the new corona disease (COVID-19), as well as donated personal protective equipment (PPE), are on the way to boost the Philippines’ fight against the spread of COVID-19, according to Assistant Health Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Speaking at a press briefing in Malacañang, Vergeire said the expected test kits—2,000 from the Mammoth Foundation in China, 1,000 from South Korea, and 2,000 from the Chinese Embassy—would be “rationally allocated” to hospitals, which need them most.

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“We are expecting more testing kits to arrive,” she said, adding that the expected kits would boost the 1,000 that the government had in stock.

Chinese billionaire and Alibaba founder Jack Ma has also pledged to donate 50,000 test kits to the country, as earlier announced by Sen. Manny Pacquiao.

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“This will be rationally allocated. We hope to give this to all who need it, even local government hospitals,” Vergeire said.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, also the spokesperson of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases, agreed, stressing that the distribution mechanism would be “based on science, evidence and needs.”

Vergeire did not provide a breakdown of the PPE donated by other countries.

Not for public use

On Thursday, the Food and Drug Administration released a list of five COVID-19 test kits it had approved for commercial use. The test kits were made in China, South Korea and Singapore.

Vergeire clarified that the commercial-use test kits could not be purchased in drugstores or pharmacies and were not for public use.

“These test kits can only be used in a hospital or a laboratory with the capacity to do so. We need a molecular biology laboratory. This cannot be bought at the drugstore. And we have many hospitals who can do this testing here,” she said.

In Cebu City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center has begun processing swab tests for persons under investigation in the Visayas.

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Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino said 10,000 of the 30,000 test kits intended for Central, Eastern and Western Visayas had arrived in Cebu.

The Department of Health in Central Visayas also received 100 COVID-19 test kits from its central office in Manila on Wednesday night. —With a report from Dale G. Israel, Inquirer Visayas

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Coronavirus, coronavirus disease, COVID-19, DoH, Maria Rosario Vergeire, pandemic, testing kits
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