COVID-19 testing in PH finally hits 8,000 in a day

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 11 2020 07:15 PM

COVID-19 testing in PH finally hits 8,000 in a day 1
Health workers conduct rapid testing on local barangay officials in Barangay Addition Hills on May 7, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines finally reached on Sunday its goal of 8,000 COVID-19 tests a day, albeit 10 days past its intended schedule.

“May 10 ay nakapagsagawa na ang ating laboratoryo ng 8,637 tests at sa kabuuan ay nakapagsagawa na ng 173,144 tests,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing Monday.

“Ang mga test na ito ay isinagawa sa 158,176 unique individuals.”

(On May 10, our laboratories were able to run 8,637 tests, and in total, 173,144 tests. These tests were done on 158,176 unique individuals.)

It is the first time that the Department of Health-accredited laboratories were able to run at least 8,000 tests a day, which was the goal for April 30.

Although it missed that goal, the DOH is setting another target of 30,000 daily tests by the end of May, amid a public clamor for mass testing.

Of those tested through May 10, a total of 142,661 people were found negative, while 14,981 people tested positive. 

Vergeire reiterated that the number of individuals who test positive are higher than the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases because of the verification and validation process.

As of Monday, the DOH recorded a total of 11,086 confirmed COVID-19 cases.

A number of reasons have been cited for missing the April 30 goal of 8,000 tests in a day.

Among them is the disinfection of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, which runs the bulk of the tests in the National Capital Region.

There are also not enough laboratories being approved for accreditation, which Vergeire attributes to the need to comply with requirements.

As of Monday, the country has 26 licensed COVID-19 laboratories, including the J.B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in Pampanga which was given a license to operate over the weekend.

The said laboratory was funded by the Asian Development Bank (ADB) and is expected to run 3,000 tests daily once it becomes fully operational this month.

“It will have a big contribution towards helping the Department of Health reach the 30,000 tests target,” said ADB Country Director Kelly Bird during the briefing.

Bird explained that the laboratory will be permanent and will be able to conduct research and “test samples beyond this pandemic.”

Besides the 26 laboratories that already passed the 5-stage accreditation process, Vergeire said there are 3 more on Stage 4 and 30 laboratories on Stage 3.

The 5-stage process of COVID-19 laboratories include assessment, validation or on-site assessment by experts, personnel training, proficiency testing or validation by RITM, and full-scale implementation.