More than a year after the pandemic started and the Philippine government is still not doing enough COVID-19 tests with Vice President Leni Robredo calling on the government to test more because the threat of the more transmissible Delta variant pushes the number of daily cases past 14,000.
“Kapag tiningnan mo ilan ang tinest kahapon, parang 52,000—ito pa rin ang level natin of testing since last year (If you look at the number of tests yesterday, it’s around 52,000—this is still the level of our testing since last year),” she said over dzXL on Sunday, August 15.
“Dagdagan ang number of tests kasi kapag hindi dinagdagan, tataas lang nang tataas dahil baka maraming infected na hindi natetest (We need to add the number of tests because if we don’t, the cases will just increase because a lot are becoming infected without testing),” Robredo added.
She sounded the alarm on the high positivity rate, which was at 24.9 percent on Saturday, August 14. The health bulletin from the Department of Health (DOH) said that the 24.9 percent positivity rate on Saturday was based on the tests done on Thursday, August 12.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a positivity rate of less than five percent.
Robredo said that at almost 25 percent positivity rate, it means that for every four people being tested, one is turning out to be positive to COVID-19.
“And lagi nating pinupush—para na tayong sirang plaka—lagi nating pinupush na dagdagan iyong number of test. Kasi kapag hindi natin dinagdagan, tataas lang nang tataas dahil baka maraming infected na hindi natetest (What we are pushing for—and we sound like a broken record already—we are always pushing to add the number of tests. Because if we don’t add, the number of people infected will just increase because we are not testing),” she stressed.
On Saturday, the Philippines logged 14,249 new cases, which is the second-highest daily tally since the pandemic started last year. The number of deaths also surpassed the 30,000 mark.
The number of new cases every day has been steadily increasing for the past week. This despite the hard lockdown imposed on the National Capital Region (NCR) and other provinces because of the risk of another surge caused by the highly contagious Delta variant.
The vice president cited that there are a lot of factors linked to doing more tests. One of which is contact tracing in the country that needs to be improved.
With more tests comes contract tracing, she said, because the government needs to identify who exactly they should be testing. This data will come from improved tracing.
Robredo also highlighted the accessibility problems because people in far-flung areas such as those in the provinces have a hard time getting tested because there’s a quota every day.
The tests, including the antigen and the gold standard of COVID-19 testing, the RT-PCR, are also expensive, the lady official noted.