Philippines unlikely to meet 8,000 daily tests by April 30: health official

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 29 2020 01:40 PM | Updated as of Apr 29 2020 02:00 PM

MANILA -- The Philippines will likely miss its target of at least 8,000 daily COVID-19 tests by April 30, a health official said Wednesday, citing the recent slowdown in processing.

Instead, the 8,000 to 10,000 daily tests will be met "in the coming days," Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said.

"Mukhang hindi po aabot dito sa 8,000 for April 30 though sinusubakan ho natin..." she said in a virtual press briefing.

(It seems like we cannot reach our target of 8,000 day, though we are trying.)

“Marami pong nangyaring issue this past week like 'yung RITM isang linggong na-down but anyway, itong ating goal ay ating pilit na aabutin these coming days," she said

(Many things happened this past few week like the RITM reduced its manpower for a week but we will try to reach our goal in the coming days.)

Processing of COVID-19 tests at the RITM or Research Institute for Tropical Medicine slowed recently after some of its staff were suspected of having the disease.

The government aimed to increase its coronavirus testing capacity by April 30 as several areas are set to shift to a looser community quarantine by May 1.

The government-accredited laboratories have a testing capacity of 6,320 but for the last 3 days, actual tests ran averaged 4,443 a day. The Philippines currently has 19 accredited COVID-19 testing centers.

Vergeire however said cartridges for its GeneXpert test kits have already arrived which could improve the coronavirus testing capacity of the government.

GeneXpert test kits reportedly have a 45-minute turnaround time for results.

To date, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country is 7,958, of whom 530 died while 975 recovered.