DOH vows to reduce 3K backlog in virus testing
The Department of Health (DOH) has vowed to resolve its backlog of 3,600 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) tests by Thursday night, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said, adding that the agency has instructed the accredited laboratories to reduce the backlog in two to three days as ordered by the Office of the President.
From its backlog of almost 12,000 two weeks ago, the DOH has a backlog of only 3,683 by Wednesday, she said.
The DOH target is to run tests within 48 to 72 hours after receiving the swab samples, she added. “If we go past 72 hours, it’s considered a backlog,” Vergeire said.
Malacañang has urged the DOH to increase the actual number of new coronavirus tests performed, after the number fell short of the estimated testing capacity.
“I am sure there is a learning curve. But I’m hoping the DOH will also take steps to increase the actual testing being conducted,” said presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Roque’s remarks came a few days after he said that the country’s testing capacity had reached 32,100 per day as of May 20, or beyond the original goal of 30,000 daily tests by the end of the month.Free mass testing
Lawmakers belonging to the militant Makabayan bloc on Thursday filed a bill that seeks to provide free mass testing for coronavirus among suspected carriers, front-line workers and those belonging to vulnerable groups.
House Bill No. 6848 aims to set up the Free Mass Testing Program, which will allow the government to know the extent of infection and transmission in the country, and equip itself with data deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19.
The bill, sponsored by the six-member Makabayan bloc in the House, said mass testing, along with community quarantine, seeks “wider testing of all suspect cases, close contacts of probable and confirmed cases, high-risk communities, health workers, other vulnerable sectors and groups even if asymptomatic.”
The bill mandates the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases and the DOH to set up an effective “mass testing plan.”
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