By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it can process 3,000 COVID-19 tests daily upon the rollout of the government’s mass testing program.
“We are confident that our laboratories can do a total of 3,000 tests a day by April 14,” said Special Assistant to the Secretary of Health Director Dr. Beverly Ho in a press briefing.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) currently has the capacity to run 1,000 tests daily, while the seven sub-national laboratories can process a total of 500 tests per day, Ho said.
“Patuloy din pong itataas dahil may mga tine-train po na mga bagong med-tech (medical technologists) para dumami ang shift sa ating mga sub-national laboratories.”
(Our testing capacity is expected to increase as we train more med-techs, to increase the shifts at our sub-national laboratories.)
“Ang ating expected capacity by the end of April ay at least 8,000 test per day,” she added.
(Our expected capacity by the end of April is at least 8,000 tests per day.)
“With 40 other laboratories in the pipeline, we can expect our daily testing capacity to increase significantly within the next couple of weeks as more laboratories will be certified.”
Mass testing to be ‘strategic’
Ho said the DOH direction for the conduct of mass testing will be strategic.”
“Ibig sabihin, bagamat ito ay pinalawak, targeted po ang testing natin to cover those who are in need. Hindi natin layunin na pipila tayo lahat isang araw at basta-basta nalang pong mag-papatest,” she said.
(This means that while the testing is being expanded, we are targeting our testing to cover those who are in need. It is not our goal for all of us to fall in line one day and just be tested.)
“Yes, we will test, test, and test. But sabi din ng WHO (World Health Organization) [the WHO said], test the suspected cases or those who need it and not every single one of us,” she added.
Ho said the planned mass testing is aimed at ensuring that all persons under investigation for COVID-19, THE vulnerable population, and health care workers exposed to positive patients can be tested.
“More tests will be given, especially [to] those that need it most. What we can assure you is that the DOH has been working to cover those who are in need of testing,” she said.
The government has said it will begin mass testing on April 14.
Assessing the health situation
The DOH official said they are intensifying their efforts to analyze the existing medical data for a more accurate assessment of the current health situation.
“Malinaw po sa atin ngayon na hindi pa po bumababa ang kaso ng COVID-19,” Ho said.
(It is clear to us now that the number of COVID-19 cases have not yet decreased.)
“We expect that the number of confirmed cases in the country will continue to rise as we test more people,” she added.
Ho said the public should “get used to a different kind of normal while a COVID vaccine is not yet invented, as our best weapons are our preventive measures.”
“We are hoping that the good habits we cultivate now will stick with us like it is second nature,” she added.