Palace disagrees with OCTA Research: PH not solely reliant on PRC’s COVID testing
MANILA, Philippines — The government is not solely reliant on the coronavirus testing services of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC), Malacañang said Tuesday as it countered the claim of the OCTA Research Group that the country’s COVID-19 response is “crippled” without the organization’s testing.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque was reacting to the research groups’ report where it revealed that there has been a 40 to 50 percent decrease in the reporting of new COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila and nearby areas after PRC stopped conducting tests that are chargeable to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth)
The researchers urged the government to resolve the impasse between the PhilHealth and PRC, saying that “without the testing facilities provided by the PRC, our isolation, quarantine, and contact tracing programs are crippled because the LGUs(local government units) do not know whether or not a person is infected with COVID-19 within the 24-48 hour time period required.”
The humanitarian organization stopped COVID-19 tests chargeable to PhilHealth due to the state health insurer’s failure to settle its overdue balance of over P930 million.
Roque pointed out that the country has over a hundred other laboratories capable of conducting RT-PCR testing.
“We simply disagree po kasi hindi lang naman PRC ang nagtetest. We have 115 licensed RT-PCR laboratories and 36 GeneXpert laboratories. Hindi po tayo nakasalalay sa iisang testing facility ng PRC,” Roque said in a televised Palace press briefing.
“We disagree po with OCTA Research,” he added.
The PRC has played a key role in COVID-19 screening in the country. It has conducted over one million coronavirus tests, accounting for at least 25% of the total coronavirus testing done in the entire country.
Recently, the Palace official asked OCTA Research, an independent research group composed primarily of faculty members and alumni from the University of the Philippines, to refrain from publicly making recommendations on the government’s coronavirus quarantine classification and instead relay them in private.
As of Tuesday, there are 371,630 confirmed cases of COVID-19 nationwide, including 328,258 recoveries and 7,039 deaths. Of the total tally, nearly half or 183,375 came from Metro Manila.
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