MANILA - Vice President Leni Robredo said Sunday the government must intensify its COVID-19 testing to get a more accurate number of virus cases.
Robredo said the country must achieve a 5 percent positivity rate, or the number of people who are found positive for COVID-19 among those tested, based on the World Health Organization standards.
The Department of Health on Saturday reported that 16.2 percent of 34,101 people tested were found positive for COVID-19. The country had logged another record number of new infections at 9,595, with active cases breaching the 118,000-mark.
"If you look at this table, there were 6,936 positive cases for that day. But DOH actually reported more than 9,000 to include the previous positive cases which they have not yet reported," she said.
"Right now, we’re conducting between 30,000-50,000 tests per day all over the country. But if you look at this table, the positivity rates for some regions are so high that the number of tests we are conducting are no longer enough."
Metro Manila, which has a 20.17 positivity rate, needs to conduct 90,000 tests daily to meet WHO's standards, according to Robredo.
She added that Cagayan Valley has the "highest" positivity rate at 28.94 percent and suggested a "minimum of 3,860 tests per day if we are to target 5 percent positivity rate."
"Of course, these numbers will adjust depending on the results of the surveillance testing. But we need to do it now," she said.
Aside from mass testing, Robredo last week urged government to "improve" its COVID-19 vaccination campaign and come up with a third stimulus package.
Former Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial lamented as well the country's slow contact-tracing.
"Marami pong taong nagpa-positive, hindi na sila nagpupunta sa ating mga epidemiology surveillance unit sa local government, at nagtatago na lang sila sa kanilang mga bahay-bahay. So, hindi po nate-test yung mga naging contacts nila," Ubial told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.
(People who are found positive do not go to the epidemiology surveillance unit in our local governments, and they just hide in their respective houses. So, their contacts are not tested anymore.)
She said isolation facilities are also getting filled.
"As we discussed before, puwede naman na yung mga eskuwelahan, yung mga buildings na hindi ginagamit, ay i-expand na ng local government yung kanilang isolation facilities. Mahirap po kasi yung sa bahay nag-a-isolate. Alam po natin na in many times, it doesn't work," said Ubial, who is currently head of the Philippine Red Cross' molecular laboratories.
(As we discussed before, isolation facilities can be expanded by local governments by utilizing school buildings that are not being used. It's really difficult to just isolate at home. We know that in many times, it doesn't work.)