De Lima wants probe into 'real status' of COVID-19 mass testing in PH

Katrina Domingo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 01 2020 04:27 PM

MANILA - Detained Sen. Leila de Lima has filed a resolution calling for an investigation on the "real status" of coronavirus mass testing efforts in the Philippines, saying the level of testing in the country has "hampered our ability to control the spread of the virus."

Senate Resolution No. 425 seeks to "identify the reasons as to why" the Philippines is "still way behind on testing."

"The lack of effective mass testing has effectively hampered our ability to control the spread of the virus by denying us leads for contact tracing, which in turn prevents us from isolating and containing the infected individuals," De Lima said in a statement.

"It appears that we are not only having difficulty scaling up the testing facilities, we are also having difficulty in providing the corresponding administrative infrastructure to support the testing program," she said.

The Philippines has been conducting an "expanded targeted testing," covering those with COVID-19 symptoms, those from overseas, those exposed to them, and those who test positive in rapid antibody tests.

As of May 25, the Philippines' daily testing capacity has reached about 32,000, but the Department of Health earlier said that it could process only up to 8,000 kits a day.

Government data showed that the Philippine Red Cross, a private organization, accounts for 45 percent of the total coronavirus tests in the country. 

About 21 percent of tests are in private laboratories, coronavirus testing czar Vince Dizon told lawmakers in a Senate hearing.

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

The country eyes to test at least 2 percent of its 100 million population, but as of May 30, less than 0.5 percent or 318,356 individuals have been tested.