Philippines has conducted nearly 23,000 COVID-19 tests: health dep't

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 06 2020 02:17 PM | Updated as of Apr 06 2020 06:20 PM

MANILA — Nearly 23,000 official tests have been conducted in the Philippines to determine whether or not individuals have acquired the coronavirus disease 2019 (2019) that has swept the world since it first emerged in China late last year, a health official said Monday.

According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, a total of 22,958 tests have been made in the country which, as of Sunday, already recorded 3,246 confirmed COVID-19 cases, including 64 recoveries and 152 fatalities.

“Out of (22,958), 16,615 or 82.7% turned out negative. 3,414 or 16.9% turned out positive,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the televised Laging Handa briefing.

The number of tests includes repeat tests for certain individuals.

Vergeire gave the announcement amid increasing public interest in mass testing for the infectious disease that prompted government to impose a Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine since March 17.

There has also been confusion in past weeks on how many tests have been conducted or how many people have already been tested.

Before, the nCoVtracker website of the Department of Health listed a much lower number for tests conducted, but the agency later clarified that the figure refers to individuals tested.

On Monday, Vergeire said the website has been “suffering from technical issues.”

“The system is down, so it’s not able to pick up the number of test results,” she explained in Filipino.

She said that is why they have started including the breakdown in their daily press briefings.

As for the scheduled mass testing announced by the government for April 14, Vergeire said they are ready.

“Gusto nating linawin: 'pag sinabi nating mass testing, ito yung ginagawa natin nung simula pa lang. We call it risk-based protocol,” she said.

(We want to clarify. When we say mass testing, this is what we have been doing from the start. We call it risk-based protocol.)

Vergeire pointed out that those who are from the vulnerable population will be prioritized for the testing.

“This will scale up when our resources are sufficient already,” said Vergeire, who, on Sunday, shared that government is targeting to eventually conduct 8,000 to 10,000 tests a day.

Among those considered part of the vulnerable population are the elderly, people with pre-existing conditions or weak immune system and health workers exposed to COVID-19 patients.

The country has received COVID-19 test kits and related equipment from China and Singapore.