Senate probe into ‘real status’ of PH coronavirus testing sought
MANILA, Philippines — Senator Leila de Lima is pushing for a Senate investigation into the “real status” of the COVID-19 mass testing in the country in order to address issues that “impede the progress” of the government’s pandemic response.
In filing Senate Resolution No. 425, De Lima underscored the need to identify the reason “why we are still way behind on testing, in spite of already months of intensified government efforts against COVID-19.”
“More than lockdowns and quarantine, it has been proven in many countries that testing is the first step towards controlling the transmission of COVID-19,” she said.
“The lack of effective mass testing has effectively hampered our ability to control the spread of the virus by denying us leads for contact tracing, which, in turn prevents us from isolating and containing the infected individuals,” she added.
The senator, meanwhile, lamented how the country has yet to reach the expected number of tests to be conducted daily, noting that “the initial scope of the mass testing should have been slowly expanding at this point given that there are recent discoveries of numerous asymptomatic COVID-19 cases in the country.”
De Lima noted that as of May 12, around two months after the government imposed lockdowns to contain the spread of the virus, only 137,055 of more than 100 million of the country’s population have undergone testing.
She also expressed concerns over COVID-19 related deaths which are supposedly not being “properly accounted for because some persons had already died before the testing was done.”
“According to a report, there exists no national total of how many Filipinos have died of circumstances that resemble COVID-19 but were never confirmed by lab testing. Even the DOH’s COVID-19 Tracker only counts the deaths of confirmed cases,” she said.
The government has been ramping up its COVID-19 testing capacity by accrediting more laboratories that are capable of detecting the novel coronavirus or SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19.
The DOH earlier set the target of being able to conduct 30,000 tests per day by the end of May.
The government’s “expanded targeted testing” aimed to test 1.5 to 2 percent of the country’s total population or about 1.6 to 2.2 million people.
To date, Philippine health officials have confirmed over 18,000 COVID-19 cases in the country. Of the number, 3,909 have so far recovered while 957 have died.
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