Palace: No COVID-19 mass testing, only expanded targeted testing
MANILA, Philippines — The government will not conduct a mass testing amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and is instead carrying out “expanded targeted testing,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Tuesday.
The government earlier drew flak online after Roque admitted that there is no program for mass testing yet due to limited resources and that it would rely on the assistance of the private sector to boost the country’s testing capacity.
Roque, however, denied that the government is passing the responsibility of conducting COVID-19 tests to the private sector.
“Maling-mali po ito,” Roque said in a televised Palace briefing.
“Hindi po pinapabayaan ng pamahalaan ang expanded testing sa pribadong sektor. Partner po natin ang pribadong sektor sa bagay na ito,” he added.
The Palace official further claimed that it is even wrong to use the term “mass testing” as no country can conduct the deliberate testing of all its citizens.
“Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na tinetest ang lahat ng kanilang mamamayan. Kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” he said.
Roque added that the Philippines is working on a “global benchmark”—which is set to test 1 to 2 percent of the population of the entire country or in the case of the epicenter even higher than that up to 10 percent.
Under the Department of Health’s testing guidelines, the following persons will be subjected to COVID-19 tests:
-All symptomatic individuals
-Individuals arriving from overseas
-All close contacts of COVID-19 patients (contact tracing)
-Those who tested positive in rapid antibody test results
Mounting calls for mass testing of suspected coronavirus carriers have prompted the government to increase its testing capacity.
So far, the Philippines has tested 207,823 unique individuals— a measly 0.19 percent of the country’s total population of almost 110 million.
As of May 18, 2020, there are 12,718 COVID-19 cases nationwide, with 2,729 recoveries and a death toll of 831.
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