Mass testing 'cornerstone' to reopening economy, says expert


Posted at Apr 08 2021 09:58 AM | Updated as of Apr 08 2021 10:11 AM

A limited number of citizens avail of the free drive-thru RT-PCR testing offered by the Manila City Government at the Quirino Grandstand in Manila on January 18, 2021. The drive-thru swab testing facility is only by appointment, available to Manila residents and non-residents, which can accomodate 100 individuals per day. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines must conduct at least 50,000 to 100,000 daily COVID-19 tests as mass testing is the "cornerstone" in reopening the economy, a public health advocate said Thursday.

Testing czar Vince Dizon had earlier rejected calls for mass testing during the lockdown in the Greater Manila area, and instead stood by "targeted" screening for coronavirus. He said the country was conducting a daily average of 50,000 COVID-19 tests.

Mass testing is defined as testing 10 to 20 percent of the population, said Dr. Tony Leachon, former adviser to the National Task Force against COVID-19.

"Ang mass testing ang (is the) cornerstone to reopen the economy...Hindi ka pwede mag-isolate, treat and quarantine kung wala kang testing kasi siya ang diagnostic test eh. Everything emanates from a positive test," he told ANC's Headstart.

(You cannot isolate, treat and quarantine patients if you don't have testing because it is the diagnostic test eh, everything emanates from a positive test.)

"Tayo 8.79 percent lang ang mass testing natin (Our mass testing was only 8.79 percent) last year up to this time. The International Monetary Fund paper sinasabi (says) it has to be 20 percent of the population."

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, while the UP Pandemic Response Team recommended conducting 130,000 daily COVID-19 tests.

The Philippines on Wednesday logged 6,414 new virus infections, bringing its total to 819,164 cases.

It is expected to reach 1 million cases by end of the month, according to OCTA.

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