PH now has capacity to perform 12,000 COVID-19 tests daily
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines now has the capacity to perform 12,000 tests a day for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as it tries to move closer to its goal of conducting 30,000 tests a day by May 30, according to the National Task Force COVID-19.
Vince Dizon, the Deputy Chief Implementer of the National Task Force COVID-19 and president of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority, said the government is also planning to set up additional 50 laboratories within May on top of the 20 existing testing laboratories from the government and private sector.
“We are now at a laboratory capacity of roughly around 12,000 per day,” he said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
But despite this capacity, the government has been able to conduct only around 7,000 tests per day, a jump from the previous 5,000 in the recent weeks, according to Dizon.
“But again, that’s just capacity. The other thing that needs to be done is to increase our ability to get the specimen from our kababayans (countrymen) on the ground,” he explained.
He said that the laboratories being targeted to be set up this month are already in its last stages of accreditation.
“We have 18,000 to go but I am really confident that with the help of the private sector and the government working together, and the government being a facilitator helping out our labs especially the labs being proposed by the private sector, we can achieve this goal of 30,000-tests-per-day lab capacity by May 30,” he added.
Dizon noted that in early February, there were only three laboratories in the country that can perform COVID-19 tests.
Recently, Dizon also announced that the government will open four mega swabbing centers in Metro Manila and Bulacan to boost the country’s capacity for mass testing. The centers are located at Philippine Sports Stadium inside the Philippine Arena (north), the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City (south), Enderun Colleges in Taguig City (east), and the Palacio de Maynila Tent in Roxas Boulevard (west).
According to Dizon, more than 20,000 overseas Filipino workers will be prioritized in the swabbing in these centers.
“If they test positive, they have to continue undergoing quarantine, if they are negative, they will be given a certificate attesting that they are already negative and then they can now go home to their places of residence and undergo home quarantine,” he said.
He added that it is “absolutely necessary” for similar mega swabbing centers to also be established in Visayas and Mindanao.
Dizon also noted that the goal of reaching its target testing capacity by the end of May is not just a government effort.
“This is not just a government effort. This is a whole-of-nation effort wherein both the government and private sector must come together to reach our goal of 30,000 tests a day,” he said.
The Philippines has recorded a total of 10,343 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Thursday afternoon. Of these cases, 685 have died and 1,618 have recovered from the illness.
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