DOH announces distribution of new test kits, but clarifies mass testing

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2020 08:53 PM

MANILA — The Department of Health on Wednesday announced that it is distributing 3,800 COVID-19 test kits to strategically located laboratories in the country.

Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said that of the 3,800 test kits, 1,300 came from the World Health Organization, 2,000 from China and 500 from a private foundation in South Korea.

“There are also 4,167 test kits from China that can be used for 100,000 tests that are being distributed to our laboratories,” Vergeire said during a televised DOH briefing.

She said another 5,000 test kits from the government of Singapore are still being accredited so it can be used in the country’s laboratories.

Vergeire clarified that while mass testing or widespread testing is important to learn as soon as possible who are positive for COVID-19, “mass testing does not mean that everyone will be tested.”

She said there is still a need to prioritize those with severe symptoms and health workers exposed to the virus.

“We are currently increasing the capacity (of our laboratories) so we can do mass testing,” she said.

Vergeire said other laboratories across the country are also being assessed to be certified as COVID-19 laboratories. 

The health official said the DOH has also been able to release personal protective equipment requested by 37 health facilities in the regions of Ilocos, Cagayan Valley, Apayao, Cordillera, Calabarzon and Sorsogon.

She reiterated that the government is studying the possibility of setting up the first community quarantine facility at the Quezon Institute with the help of the Philippine Red Cross.

A community quarantine facility is where patients under investigation and persons under monitoring could be placed while undergoing quarantine. She said COVID-19 cases who are discharged after becoming asymptomatic could also stay there.