MANILA—The Philippines has increased its coronavirus testing to 50,000 per day, an official said Monday, as the capital region and nearby provinces battled a surge in virus cases.
COVID-19 testing Secretary Vince Dizon said the country's COVID-19 testing averaged at 51,300 from March 25 to April 1 and "peaked" at 57,800, but he did not expound on the data.
The health department's daily tally of virus cases released at 4 p.m. only included laboratories that have met its cutoff time, Dizon said.
"Pagka weekends at holiday talagang bumabababa ang ating ano (testing) dahil ang mga laboratoryo natin hindi 100 percent ang kanilang capacity," he told ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
(Our testing decreases during weekends and holidays because our laboratories do not operate at a 100 percent capacity.)
He added that some 25,000 antigen tests would be conducted daily in the NCR Plus bubble, which is composed of Metro Manila, Laguna, Cavite, Bulacan and Rizal.
"Sa NCR Plus lang dahil nakikita natin marami sa laboratoryo natin ang nagkakaroon ng outbreak. Kailangan gamitin lang ito sa mga symptomatic at mga close contact," he said.
(This will be done in NCR Plus only because we can see many of our laboratories are having an outbreak. We only need to use this on symptomatic patients and their close contacts.)
Those who get positive antigen test results need to be isolated immediately while those who turn out to be negative but are exhibiting symptoms must undergo confirmatory tests, Dizon added.
Vice President Leni Robredo earlier said Metro Manila needs to conduct at least 90,000 tests daily to get a more accurate figure of the pandemic.
"Ang point ko lang, nung last year na ang cases natin nung March, April (ay) 1,200 (ang daily average), ang goal na natin (sa testing ay) 30,000. Pero bakit hanggang ngayon, andun pa rin tayo na sobrang dami na ngayon na nagpa-positive," she said.
(My point is, in March and April last year, our cases averaged 1,200 daily and our goal was to test 30,000. Why is our testing still the same until now when there are so many who test positive?)
The Philippines on Easter Sunday tallied 11,028 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country’s total to 795,051.
The country's COVID-19 positivity rate, or the number of people who get tested and turn out positive for the coronavirus, is now at 22.7 percent, according to ABS-CBN Data Analytics.
The World Health Organization recommends a positivity rate of 5 percent or lower for at least 14 days before reopening the economy.