Philippines to buy additional COVID-19 test kits, Galvez says

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 14 2020 10:49 PM

MANILA - The Philippines will procure close to 3 million additional COVID-19 test kits, as the country begins targeted mass testing for the disease, a government official said Tuesday.

Of the number, some 900,000 are polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test kits and 2 million are rapid test kits.

President Rodrigo Duterte also approved the procurement of machines necessary to capacitate accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories, according to National Action Plan against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez Jr.

“Sa aming pagpupulong sa Malacanang kagabi, inaprubahan na po ng ating Pangulo ang pagbili ng additional na 900,000 PCR testing kits at 2 milyong rapid testing kits. Ito po ay para ma-extend ang services natin doon sa mga nangangailangan na ma-test kaagad,” Galvez said in a virtual press conference.

“Kasama dito ang mga PCR machines, automated extraction machines, mga freezers, at mga iba pang kinakailangan ng RITM para ma-capacitate ang mga accredited testing laboratories,” he added.

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), meanwhile, is working on the accreditation of 15 more COVID-19 testing centers. Galvez said the RITM currently tests over 3,000 samples per day. The government’s goal is to test 5,000 to 8,000 samples daily by the end of the month.

RETURNING OFWS

The Philippine government is also preparing for the return of 70,000 to 100,000 overseas Filipino workers whose jobs were disrupted due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Tayo po ay kasalukuyang naghahanda sa pagbalik ng pitumpung libo (70,000) hanggang sandaang libong (100,000) na OFWs sa bansa. Sila po ay sasailalim sa 14 days mandatory quarantine procedure, para makasiguro po tayong wala po sa kanila ang imported carriers,” Galvez said.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines has committed to provide 200 medical personnel for the quarantine facilities at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium, Rizal Memorial Coliseum, and World Trade Center. The facility at the Ninoy Aquino Stadium has been turned over to the Manila City government and the AFP. 

There are also currently 2,673 quarantine facilities, which can accommodate 165,756 suspected and probable COVID-19 cases. 

COVID-19 DEATH TOLL

The National Task Force against COVID-19 urged the public not to take lightly the threat of COVID-19, as Galvez stressed that the death toll in the country currently stands at 20 to 50 a day.

“Inuulit ko po sa ating mga kababayan na huwag nating maliitin ang COVID-19. Nakita natin na ang US at ang European countries na minamaliit ang epekto ng COVID-19 ay nagsa-suffer ng consequences,” he said.

“Araw-araw po ay dalawampu (20) hanggang limampu (50) ang sa atin ay pumapanaw. Sa Estados Unidos, halos araw-araw ay dalawang libo po ang namamatay at 23,649 na po ang total na patay,” Galvez added.

He reiterated calls for the public to stay at home and for local governments and uniformed personnel to strictly implement the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon.

“Sa localized management ng pandemic crisis: nananawagan po ako sa ating MMDA, mayors, barangay captains at ang ating PNP at AFP na lalo pa po nating paigtingin ang pagpapatupad ng enhanced community quarantine. May mga nakita po kaming mga tahasang paglabag ng lockdown. Muli po, kaming nananawagan sa ating mga kababayan to “stay at home”. Huwag po tayong magpabaya, dahil buhay ninyo at ng inyong pamilya ang nakataya. Nakita natin ang nangyari sa mga bansang hindi sumunod sa social distancing at lockdown. Libu-libo ang namamatay sa kanila araw-araw. Inuulit ko po, huwag po tayong pasaway,” Galvez said.