PH ramps up testing as COVID-19 cases surge in Metro Manila


Posted at Mar 10 2021 10:20 AM | Updated as of Mar 10 2021 10:36 AM

A limited number of citizens avail of the free drive-thru RT-PCR testing offered by the Manila City Government at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on January 18, 2021. The drive-thru swab testing facility is only by appointment, available to Manila residents and non-residents, which can accomodate 100 individuals per day. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines is testing more as COVID-19 cases rise in Metro Manila and other regions just a week after it began its vaccination drive, an official said Wednesday.

Some 40,000 tests are conducted daily nationwide, half of which are in Metro Manila, said testing czar Vince Dizon.

"In fact we’re testing more. In Metro Manila, we’ve been hitting 20,000 tests. This is up from maybe about 12,000-15,000 in the prior weeks," he told ANC's Headstart.

"What we need to do is really implement the strategies that allowed us to bring down the numbers from July and August of last year...What we did not have last year is the vaccination rollout. Now we have that additional intervention."

The country as of Tuesday logged 2,668 new COVID-19 cases, raising the country's total to 600,428. The capital region, home to about a tenth of the country's population, has recorded more than 1,000 new virus cases daily for five consecutive days.

Dizon said government is "concerned with the spike in numbers" but added that it has yet to reach last year's peak at 4,500 daily new cases.

"Hopefully the cases are now starting to plateau. It’s too early to say but yesterday the logged cases dropped from 3,500 to about 2,600," he said.

"That’s a huge drop in our daily rate but of course it’s too early to tell. We just have to work hard as we rollout the vaccination campaign."

The Department of the Interior and Local Government will also renew the contract of some of the 50,000 contact tracers it hired last year, Dizon said.

"The problem is when the budgets expired in 2020, some of them not all were not renewed. With the increasing number of cases, there is a more aggressive renewal of those contact tracers," he said.

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