'Too early to tell' if PH COVID-19 infections already declining: DOH


Posted at Apr 05 2020 12:52 PM | Updated as of Apr 05 2020 01:03 PM

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MANILA - The Philippines is targeting to eventually conduct 8,000 to 10,000 COVID-19 tests daily as it also studies the extension of Luzon's month-long lockdown due to the pandemic, a health official said Sunday.

The country on Saturday recorded 76 cases of the respiratory illness, its lowest number new cases on a daily basis since March 26, bringing the total to 3,094. Fifty-seven patients have so far recovered, while 144 have died.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ANC on Sunday it was "too early to tell if the curve is flattening already."

Government is looking at factors such as laboratory capacity in analyzing the daily number of cases, Vergeire said.

"We’d just like to tell everybody that even though yesterday’s number was low, it is not the time to be complacent. We still continue on with our measures for us to prevent the transmission of this disease," she said.

"We remind everybody to stay at home, please listen to valid sources of information, and let us stop spreading misinformation. We still need to practice our stringent measures of physical distancing, cough etiquette and washing of our hands," she reiterated.

The Department of Health is working with scientists, mathematicians, and members of the academe to come up with "an appropriate" recommendation on the enhanced community quarantine imposed on Luzon, Vergeire said.

"We are fast tracking our assessment of the different laboratories which have these capacities, so we can extend lab capacity for testing," she said.

"When these 8,000 to 10,000 target for testing will be done, it is going to be done not just by subnational laboratories, but would be including the different laboratories which are already assessed and compliant."

The testing process would take 24 to 48 hours, according to Vergeire.

The Philippines is currently capable of conducting 900 to 1,200 tests daily, Vergeire said in a press briefing Saturday. It will be capable of doing 3,000 tests daily by April 14, she added.

“The mass testing that we’re planning is targeted. We need to prioritize the vulnerable members of the population such as pregnant women, those who are immunocompromised, and our front line health workers who have the highest exposure to the virus,” she said in a press briefing.

As of Friday, the Philippines has 8 COVID-19 testing centers nationwide.

The country has received tens of thousands of COVID-19 test kits from China and Singapore.