By Genalyn Kabiling
The government is aiming to conduct 1 million coronavirus tests by July following the arrival of additional test kits and the accreditation of more laboratories to improve national capacity.
Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA) head Vivencio Dizon announced on Thursday the government’s testing goal alongside plans to conduct expanded targeted testing in Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Cebu and Davao.
As of June 22, around 612,571 tests have been conducted with a positivity rate of 5 percent, according to Dizon,
A bulk order of 1.05 million test kits arrived in the country last June 21 that will boost the country’s testing efforts, according to Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the government’s coronavirus response.
“Ngayon tayo ay nasa 600,000 so in-expect natin na within the month of July, aabot na tayo ng isang milyon. Ito ang ating initial goal pero sa mga susunod na buwan, pipilitin natin na padamihin pa ito hanggang umabot tayo sa ating target na 13 percent o 10 to 12 percent sa ating mga highly densely populated areas. (We are now around 600,000 tests and we expect that within the month of July, we will reach 1 million. This is our initial goal but in the coming months, we will try to increase the tests to reach our target of 13 percent or 10 to 12 percent of our highly densely populated areas),” he said during a Palace press briefing.
“Pipilitin natin sa next few months na aabot na tayo sa halos two percent ng ating buong population prioritizing ating mga dense populated areas tulad ng Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Cebu and Davao. (We will strive in the next few months to reach nearly two percent of our entire population prioritizing densely populated aras like Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon, Cebu and Davao),” he said.
At present, Dizon said the country has the capacity to conduct 51,302 tests per day, exceeding its earlier capacity goal of 50,000 this month.
He said the country has 66 COVID laboratories, including 41 government-run facilities, 24 privately-owned and one public-private partnership facility, that raised the country’s testing capacity.
The actual coronavirus tests have so far reached 16,000 per day. Dizon said the government seeks to increase the daily tests between 20,000 and 25,000 due to steady supply of test kits.
With increased laboratory capacity, test kit supply, and automated system, he said there is now a faster turnaround time for testing. Tests results can be obtained within 48 hours to 72 hours, compared to two weeks or more back in March.
Expanded testing efforts
Dizon said the government will continue to expand its testing program to cover medical workers, other frontliners, hot spot barangays, as well as all jails and mental institutions including those asymptomatics.
Among the non-medical frontliners covered by the government’s testing program are policemen, coast guard and fire personnel, barangay officials, contact tracing teams, mortuary/cemetery workers, social workers and volunteers, and media personnel.
Dizon also disclosed the plans of the government, in partnership with the private sector, to further expand testing to include those in other industries such as transport and logistics, food and non-food, security and sanitization, education, services, market vendors, and other employees returning to the workplace.