By Analou De Vera
The Philippines’ total number of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases is nearing the 8,000-mark as the Department of Health reported on Tuesday 181 new cases.
This new development has brought the country’s total to 7,958, the Health department said in its latest case bulletin.
The number of patients who have recovered from the disease rose to 975 as the DOH reported 43 new recoveries among COVID-19 patients.
However, 19 more patients have died, bringing the death toll to 530.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the country’s current testing capacity for COVID-19 is at 4,800 tests per day.
The DOH recently said that it is aiming to conduct 8,000 tests daily by the end of this month.
“Our target testing capacity by April 30 remains to be 8,000 per day. Our current output as of yesterday is around 4,800. We are still working hard to achieve our target,” the Health official told reporters.
Vergeire said that the recent scaling down of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has affected their testing capacity.
“When the RITM scaled down, we slowed down, our output went down. Now, they are still trying to gradually increase their output,” she said.
Vergeire is optimistic that they would be able to achieve their testing capacity target by April 30 as they are expecting the 3,000 daily capacity of the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in Pampanga using the GeneXpert test kits.
“We can guarantee everybody that once the testing at Lingad Hospital comes in with 3,000 tests per day,” said Vergeire.
“We won’t adjust our target. But if we don’t reach the target, we will strive (to increase the capacity),” she added.
Vergeire also said that they are also increasing the testing capacity of other sub-national laboratories.
“What we are doing right now is we are trying to augment our machines, extending (operating) hours also, and augmenting our staff in our existing laboratories,” she said.