Duterte economic adviser pushes combined COVID-19 testing

ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 20 2020 12:16 PM

Tricycle riders in Marikina City undergo mass testing using rapid test kits for COVID-19 on May 19, 2020. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Combining two types of coronavirus tests can help authorities better manage pandemic as restrictions begin to ease, an economic adviser to President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday.

By using both the rapid test and the more conclusive polymerase chain reaction or PCR, the Philippines can come close to the health department's target of 30,000 daily tests, Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion said.

Metro Manila, large parts of Central Luzon and Laguna province are under modified enhanced community quarantine or modified ECQ until May 31, in preparation for the general community quarantine or CGQ with fewer restrictions.

"As we move to GCQ, we have to use PCR testing and rapid testing to bring greater visibility and also to keep the people safe," Concepcion said.

The combined tests will allow testing for those who exhibit and don't exhibit symptoms of the disease, he said.

The Philippines is eyeing testing up to 2 percent of its population or 2 million people with a capacity of 50,000 tests per day, COVID-19 response deputy chief Vince Dizon earlier said.

Concepcion said he was confident that Metro Manila could move to general quarantine by June 1 with more PCR equipment coming in and the rapid testing by the private sector. 

There should be a balance between health and re-opening the economy, he said.

"There are people who are getting sick but we have to weigh that balance because in the end, people will die of hunger, people will have no money to but medicines, families will be distraught," he said.

Barangay or village level quarantines are being considered, he said.