DOH to expand COVID-19 testing coverage

Published July 15, 2020, 1:32 PM

by Analou de Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) is expanding its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing coverage.


DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters Wednesday this is made possible with improvements in their testing capacity.  

“Ngayon pumapalo na ang ating capacity for testing na mataas na rin almost 20,000 in a day na so, napagdesisyunan na i-expand pa natin further ang ating testing [coverage] (With our capacity for testing having reached a new high of almost 20,000 a day, we have decided to expand our testing [coverage] further),” she said. 

“Napirmahan na ni Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III] yung ating guidelines na bago. I-upload na lang sa ating website to make it official and then pwede na umpisahan ito (Secretary Duque has already signed the new guidelines, we will just have to upload it unto our website to make it official and then we can begin its implementation],” she added.

Included in the new test guidelines are vulnerable individuals living in areas with clustering of cases or community transmission that needs “localized intervention,” said Vergeire.

“Ito yung areas na nakita natin na matataas ang kaso, meron talagang evidence of  community transmission, pwede na sila i-test based from the  recommendations of their local officials (These are the areas with high cases, with evidence of community transmission. People there can now be tested based on the recommendations of their local officials),” she said.

Vergeire said that “frontliners in tourist zones” and workers in “manufacturing companies and public service providers” are also included in the new test guidelines.

The test guidelines also covers “economy workers” such as drivers, conductors, pilots, flight attendants, waiters, restaurant managers, teachers at all levels of education, bank tellers, cashiers, store clerks, hairdressers, security guards, messengers, among others.

Other subgroups of individuals who are considered at-risk and are eligible for testing based on the DOH guidelines are: (Subgroup A) – patients or healthcare workers with severe/critical symptoms, and relevant history of travel or close contact; (Subgroup B) – patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, with relevant history of travel or close contact and who are considered vulnerable. These vulnerable populations include the elderly and those with pre-existing medical conditions that predispose them to severe presentation and complications of COVID-19; (Subgroup C) – patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, and relevant history of travel or close contact; (Subgroup D) – patients or healthcare workers with no symptoms but with relevant travel history and close contact; (Subgroup E) – frontliners indirectly involved in healthcare provision in the response against COVID 19; and (Subgroup F) – other vulnerable patients such as those with comorbidities, those who will undergo high-risk, elective surgical procedures, those living in confined spaces, and others.