Philippines ramps up COVID-19 testing with specimen collection booths

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 17 2020 10:29 AM | Updated as of Apr 17 2020 10:55 AM

Health workers conduct their routine swab testing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on their fellow hospital employees at the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila on April 14, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE) -- The Philippines will put up specimen collection booths as it ramps up COVID-19 testing efforts, the spokesman of the country's pandemic response task force said Friday.

An initial 132 specimen collection booths will be put up in different regions to complement the increasing number of COVID-19 testing centers, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said.

The specimen collection booths will be distributed in the following regions as follows according to Department of Science and Technology (DOST) Sec. Fortunato dela Peña:

  • Metro Manila – 34
  • Cordillera Administrative Region – 6
  • Ilocos Region - 6
  • Cagayan Valley – 6
  • Central Luzon – 8
  • CALABARZON – 4
  • MIMAROPA – 2
  • Bicol Region – 5
  • Western Visayas – 6
  • Central Visayas – 7
  • Eastern Visayas – 3
  • Zamboanga Peninsula – 10
  • Northern Mindanao – 5
  • Davao Region – 4
  • SOCCSKSARGEN– 3
  • Caraga Region - 4
  • Department of Health Centers for Health Development Offices- 19

The Philippines has 16 COVID-19 testing centers nationwide. The health department and science department collaborated on the specimen collection effort, Nograles said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Friday said laboratories should run 24-hour shifts for COVID-19 testing as the government aims to run 8,000 to 10,000 tests per day by the end of April.

The Philippines has the most number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia so far. As of Thursday, it confirmed 5,660 cases of the respiratory disease, with 362 deaths and 435 recoveries.

Luzon, home to half the country's 100 million population, is on lockdown until April 30 to halt the spread of the disease that forced similar quarantines overseas and put the global economy on ice.