All frontliners, PUIs, PUMs in Metro Manila to undergo COVID-19 tests

Bettina Magsaysay, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 28 2020 09:57 PM

MANILA - All frontliners and persons under monitoring (PUM) and investigation (PUI) for possible coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) infection will be tested for the illness, a government official said Tuesday.

Carlito Galvez, Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19, said in an online briefing that concerned agencies will conduct tests on all frontliners and persons suspected with the disease "not later" than May 7.

Mass testing will also be conducted in high-risk areas under the enhanced community quarantine, Galvez said.

"We will also work for 20,000 tests per day not later than May 15, 2020 and 30,000 tests per day not later than May 30, 2020. And we will also work for the turnaround and release of result for 24 to 48 hours at the most," he said.

Galvez explained that government will prioritize Metro Manila in conducting the mass testing, since the capital region is considered the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.

"We will also reconfigure all facilities to the 'new normal' of social and physical distancing, biosafety awareness and protection of elders and other vulnerable sectors," he said.

Filipino migrant workers, students, and tourists who will arrive in the Philippines will be processed in "one-stop shops" in airports that will conduct rapid testing for arrivals, Galvez said.

"Upon entry, they will be undergoing rapid tests. As of this moment, we have more than 16,000 OFWs and we'll wrap up testing through PRC (Polymerase Chain Reaction) with the designation of four mega swabbing areas," he said. 

Polymerase chain reaction test kits are commonly used in Philippine hospitals as they provide more accurate COVID-19 results than rapid test kits, according to data from the health department.

The Philippines has recorded 181 new COVID-19 cases, bringing its total to 7,958 as of Tuesday.

The health department logged 43 new recovered patients and 19 new COVID-related deaths, bringing the total number of recoveries to 975, and the total number of deaths to 530.