MANILA - The Philippine government has so far conducted more than 15,300 tests for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday, amid criticism of the slow rollout of testing for the highly-infectious virus.
Of the number, some 2,388 tested positive, which include 300 repeat tests, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a press briefing.
Some 11,129 tests turned out negative while 1,820 were found out equivocal or have to undergo repeat tests to ascertain their diagnosis.
Latest data from DOH showed that the Philippines is still capable of conducting 89,969 tests, wherein the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) accounts nearly half of it.
The RITM still has 42,000 remaining tests; Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Cordillera Administrative Region has 4,937; San Lazaro Hospital in National Capital Region (NCR) has 4,932; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Central Visayas has 24,396; UP National Institutes of Health in NCR has 4,861; Western Visayas Medical Center in Western Visayas has 4,843; and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao Region has 4,000.
The Philippines on Tuesday confirmed 538 new coronavirus infections, its biggest one-day jump since the outbreak began, raising the country's total to 2,084.
The tally includes 88 people who died from the disease while 49 others have recovered.
To fast-track the screening of the COVID-19 cases, the health department said the RITM could now run up to a thousand tests a day and had shorten the turnaround time for the test results.
Other accredited laboratories can administer a total of 200 tests a day.
As Luzon entered its third week of the enhanced community quarantine, a non-government organization slammed DOH's alleged slow response to the crisis.
"DOH should be taken to task for its failure to take charge of the fight against COVID-19," the Community Medicine Development Foundation said in a statement.
As COVID-19 cases continue to increase, the group said the DOH has only tested fewer than 3,000 individuals so far, which it said was "extremely small" for a country of 110 million people.
"Without testing, the current quarantine will be irrelevant and proper containment will be ineffective," the group said.
The Philippine capital region, home to about half of the country's 100 million people, is under lockdown until April 12.
The Community Medicine Development Foundation also said the DOH had failed to provide protective gears for frontline health workers fighting the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Simply put, the DOH is not doing enough," the group said.