Philippines eyes testing 2 million Filipinos for COVID-19


Posted at May 19 2020 04:33 PM

Philippines eyes testing 2 million Filipinos for COVID-19 1
An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) holds his 2-year-old son as he covers his nose at a swab testing center for the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) in Manila on May 13, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA – The Philippines aims to test at least 2 percent of the population or 2 million people for COVID-19 including up to 10 percent in the Metro Manila, a pandemic response official said Tuesday.

Testing capacity should reach up to 50,000 per day in order to reach the goal, with the focus on Metro Manila considered as the outbreak epicenter, said COVID-19 response deputy chief Vince Dizon. 

"Right now the benchmark is between 1 to 2 percent of the population, but it is important to note that we need to test more in epicenters like the National Capital Region," Dizon told a Senate hearing.

"The goal should be able to build up capacity to test up to 2 percent of the population, we are looking at 2 million in total and to be able to test up to 10 percent in the National Capital Region which is our epicenter and in order to do that we need to ramp up testing capacity up to 50,000 test per day," he added.

The Philippines have so far tested 0.2 percent of the population or 240,000 people, "roughly" the same as Vietnam, Dizon said.

Currently, the Department of Health is working to increase its testing capacity to up to 30,000 per day by the end of May. 

The number of accredited testing labs is expected to reach as much as 60 by the end of the month, National Task Force Against COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr said in the same hearing.

Over a hundred laboratories are also applying for accreditation, Galvez said. As of May 17, there are 35 accredited testing laboratories. A number of PCR machines are also being procured from China, he said.