Gov’t aims for 100,000 COVID-19 tests a day to help contain spread
MANILA, Philippines — The government is targeting to conduct 100,000 COVID-19 tests per day through the combined use of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and rapid antigen tests following the latest surge of coronavirus infections, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
“The target would be as what the experts would say, we should be targeting 100,000 tests per day, and that is the objective. We are adding the rapid antigen test in our methodology so that we will be able to reach that target,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an interview with ABS-CBN News Channel.
According to Vergeire, the country has conducted almost 50,000 tests per day for this past week.
She added that the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has directed the use of rapid antigen testing especially in areas with an increased number of COVID-19 cases.
“So having said that, by using this rapid antigen, and also coupled by these RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) laboratories that we have, we will be able to ramp up testing,” Vergeire said.
In October 2020, the DOH released a memorandum indicating that rapid antigen tests “shall be allowed for diagnostic testing of close contacts in communities and closed or semi-closed institutions with confirmed outbreaks, and in remote settings where RT-PCR is not immediately available.”
It added that the use of antigen test is “not recommended in settings with an expected low prevalence of disease or populations with no known exposure, such as among asymptomatic travelers or for border control.”
But even if the government would not be able to meet its target number of tests, Vergeire said that people who were tested should be quarantined immediately to help prevent the spread of the virus.
“What would be most critical also is that once we test, we also need to isolate immediately. These are the gaps in the system right now that we can see, that there is this delay in isolating or quarantining people that’s why the transmission is happening,” the health official explained.
The DOH reported 10,016 additional COVID-19 cases on Monday, the highest single-day tally so far, bringing the total coronavirus cases in the country to 731,894. Of the total count, 603,213 are recoveries and 13,186 are deaths.
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