Global supply shortage of coronavirus testing components hampers PH efforts: DOH

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2020 05:07 PM

Health workers conduct swab tests at a drive-thru testing center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on April 29, 2020. As part of the city’s Systematic Approach to Responsible Testing (SMART) program, the testing facility aims to target residents who own vehicles and are unable to get tested through other testing sites. The drive-thru testing facility is located at the Northeast Parking Area in front of Kidzania, and is open every Wednesday from 3pm - 5pm. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- Shortage in the global supply of some components for COVID-19 testing has hampered efforts to ramp up testing capacity, the Department of Health said Friday.

As of Tuesday, the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity stood at 4,725, with 22 accredited testing laboratories. This figure is still below the DOH’s testing capacity goal of 8,000 last month, and 30,000 by the end of the month.

“Maraming pong peripherals itong proseso na ito. Kailangan may micro pipelets ka, kailangan mayroon kang enzymes. So minsan ‘yung (sometimes) global supply chain shortages come in the way of the efficiency that we all would like to upgrade in these laboratory testing centers,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

(There are many peripherals in this process. We need micro pipelets, we need enzymes.)

“Kaya minsan talagang nakaka-frustrate. Kasi minsan, nag-order tayo. Tapos darating 25 percent lang ng inorder natin… Maaantala ka talaga,” he added.

(Sometimes it's really frustrating because we will place an order and only 25 percent of what we ordered will arrive. It hampers the process.)

The health department will also look into reports of delays in testing samples for COVID-19.

“Iyan ay pag-aaralan kung ano ang nangyari. Pero hindi naman uncommon na may delays," Duque said.

(We will study what happened but delays are not uncommon.)

As of Thursday, the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has gone up to 10,343, according to the Department of Health. This includes 685 deaths and 1,618 recoveries.

The government is opening up 4 mega swabbing facilities to boost its coronavirus testing in the hopes of reaching a daily 30,000 testing capacity by end of May.