Red Cross, private sector conduct over half of Philippines' COVID-19 tests: gov't data

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 19 2020 05:44 PM

An Overseas Filipino Worker (OFW) from Thailand 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

MANILA - More than half of coronavirus tests in the Philippines have been conducted by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and other private establishments, government data showed Tuesday.

Of the 11,123 tests conducted on May 14, 45 percent were done in PRC laboratories, while 21 percent were in private laboratories, coronavirus testing czar Vince Dizon told lawmakers in a Senate hearing.

The remaining 16 percent were conducted by the state-run Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and 18 percent in other government facilities.

There was a 122 percent increase in testing between May 2 and May 14, Dizon said.

"The major reason for that is the private sector and government have come together under a whole of nation approach as called for by our President to really come together to bring our testing capacity up," he said.

The coalition is composed of government agencies, PRC, as well as the "major conglomerates and major hospitals" in the Philippines, he said.

The collaborative effort boosted the Philippines' COVID-19 testing capacity to 17,300 per day as of May 18, he said.

The government plans to build and accredit 58 more COVID-19 testing laboratories to "ramp up testing capacity up to 50,000 tests per day," a goal eyed in two months, Dizon said.

The testing czar has yet to explain why private institutions, all accredited by government, were able to do more tests compared state facilities.

The Philippines has among the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, tailing Singapore and Indonesia.

As of May 19, there are 12,942 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, including 837 deaths and 2,843 recoveries.