Gov’t eyes COVID testing of 3.3 M Filipinos by Sept

Published August 28, 2020, 12:50 PM

by Genalyn Kabiling

The government is targeting to test at least 3.3 million people by next month in line with intensified efforts to screen people with coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

According to President Duterte, the government aims to test around two to three percent of the country’s population estimated at around 110 million by September. 

The Department of Health (DOH) has so far reported that 2,271,689 million persons went through coronavirus testing.

 Of the tested individuals, 10.6 percent turned out positive for coronavirus. 

“Sustaining the positive impact of this pandemic response, through the Universal Health Care Act, the government aims to test 2-3 percent of the population, or 2.2 million to 3.3 million individuals by September this year,” the President said in his budget message to Congress.

“We need to be relentless in our pursuit of putting an end to the pandemic in the country so that we resume the momentum in strengthening our economy and building a high-trust society for Filipinos,” he said.

As of Aug. 27, the country has recorded 205,581 cases of coronavirus. Of these cases, 133,990 have recovered from the illness while 3,234 passed away. 

Out of the 205,581 cases, 6,735 are healthcare workers, the DOH said. Of the said figure, 6,070 have already recovered while 625 are active cases or still getting treatment. 

The government has gradually eased the strict coronavirus lockdown in the country to revive the economy but stepped up targeted testing, tracing, and treatment to contain the spread of the disease.

Around 110 coronavirus testing laboratories are currently operating in the country. 

In his message to Congress, the President defended the community quarantine levels imposed by the government in the past few months. 

He said General Community Quarantine (GCQ) and the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) have given the government sufficient time to expand testing capacities, promote isolation to reduce the spread of the infection, and facilitate intensive contact tracing “to halt the virus in its tracks.” 

“By further putting in place other health measures, we have been able to prevent an estimated 1.3 to 3.5 million COVID-19 infections,” he said. 

“Without this urgent action of the Administration, our population would have been dealt a more devastating blow and be reeling from immediate impacts and far-reaching consequences of the virus,” he added. 

Duterte also urged Congress to pass the proposed ₱4.506-trillion national budget for 2021 that will help boost the government’s pandemic response. 

He said the 2021 budget measure includes ₱71.4-billion allocation for the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. to subsidize the health insurance premiums of 13.22 million poor families and 7.3 million senior citizens. 

“Still on track in the mission to provide better health care for all, we will strengthen the National Health Insurance Program to guarantee its capacity to fully address future challenges and consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. 

Duterte said he has also authorized specialized hospitals under the DOH to use at least 35 percent of their income to purchase and upgrade their equipment. 

At least ₱16.6 billion will go to the human resources for health program that deploys doctors, nurses, and other health professionals to hospitals and disadvantaged communities.

The budget will also make possible the hiring of 26,035 health workers, according to the President. 

To ensure the safety of health workers, Duterte said the government has allocated ₱2.7 billion for procurement of more than two million sets of personal protective equipment for hospitals, laboratories, and regional swaggers. 

The government also set aside ₱2.5 billion for the vaccine purchases to initially inoculate 3.9 million individuals. 

An additional ₱1 billion will go to the procurement of GeneXpert polymerase chain reaction machines for fast and accurate testing of COVID-19 cases. (With a report from Analou de Vera)

 
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