Palace says PH has capacity to run over 30,000 COVID-19 tests daily

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 25 2020 11:37 AM | Updated as of May 25 2020 02:31 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

DOH data shows 8,000 daily tests in recent days

MANILA (3RD UPDATE) - Malacañang claimed Monday that the Philippines has achieved its target of increasing its coronavirus testing capacity to 30,000 per day but actual COVID-19 tests ran by the government daily remain below 10,000.

Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the government exceeded its goal last May 20, as it has the capacity to run 32,100 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests in a day.

"Naabot na natin ang ating target na 30,000 PCR tests per day," he said in a virtual press briefing.

(We have reached our target of 30,000 PCR tests per day.)

"Ang original target po ay 30,000 by May 30 pero nung Mayo 20 po, nakaabot na po tayo sa 32,100 tests per day. Nalampasan po natin ang ating target," he added.

(The original target is 30,000 by May 30 but on May 20, we reached 32,100 tests per day. We exceeded our target.)

TESTING CAPACITY ONLY

In a succeeding statement, Roque clarified that he was referring to the "national testing capacity" and not the actual tests ran by government daily.

"This is to clarify that I was referring to our national testing capacity, which is now at 32,000/day, when I earlier mentioned that we have already conducted and surpassed the 30,000-target last May 20," he said in a statement.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosasrio Vergeire said 32,000 is the estimated maximum capacity per day of all licensed laboratories in the country.

The estimation is based on the number of machines, human resource, and operating hours per laboratory, she explained.

Roque said that expanding the government's testing capacity is "our first step to increasing the number of daily tests conducted." 

"This means more accredited laboratories and more automated machines so that we are capable of testing up to 30,000 plus per day," he said.

On Sunday, the Department of Health reported that it conducted 8,283 COVID-19 tests on May 23.

In the previous days, the government has also conducted less than 10,000 COVID-19 tests daily, based on reports from the DOH, except on May 14, when 11,123 screenings were done.

The government opened swabbing centers earlier this month to boost its response efforts to the pandemic as it wanted to ramp up its COVID-19 testing capacity by the end of the month.

Roque said the Philippines also aims to open 66 COVID-19 testing centers nationwide by the end of May.

As of Sunday, the Philippines has a cumulative 14,035 confirmed COVID-19 cases. This includes 868 deaths, and 3,249 recoveries.

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-- with report from Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News