Philippines may change COVID-19 testing rules with more kits coming: Palace


Posted at Mar 19 2020 08:19 AM

MANILA - Authorities might change protocols on testing for the novel coronavirus with the expected arrival of additional screening kits, Malacanang said Thursday. 

The Philippines currently has some 1,000 COVID-19 testing kits reserved for patients under monitoring who are showing symptoms of the disease, said Cabinet Secretary Carlo Nograles. 

Manila expects to get a "considerable" number of additional kits, both donated and purchased, he said.

"With more kits coming, then perhaps there is a chance that we will be updating the protocols," Nograles told reporters. 

"We leave it to the DOH kung ano iyong pinakamagandang procedure na gagawin to all of those testing kits that we expect to come," he said. 

COVID-19 test kits by the University of the Philippines are expected to be available in 2 to 3 weeks, according to one of its developers, scientist Raul Destura.

China will donate 100,000 test kits to the Philippines, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. said Wednesday. China's Alibaba founder Jack Ma will also give Manila 50,000 kits, according to Sen. Manny Pacquiao. 

COVID-19 test kits need laboratories and machines to yield accurate results, and are not like pregnancy test kits that could be taken anywhere, Nograles said, quoting the health department. 

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City is currently the country's lone COVID-19 test facility. 

Authorities are preparing 5 more laboratories to test for the respiratory disease, said Nograles. 

The Philippines as of Wednesday confirmed 202 cases of the disease, including 17 deaths and 7 patients who recovered. 

The World Health Organization earlier estimated that some 75,000 Filipinos could be infected without "drastic measures", which prompted the government to place the entire Luzon under a monthlong lockdown, said Nograles.