PH eyes including asymptomatic patients in COVID-19 testing program

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2020 04:17 PM

Health workers from the Philippine Coast Guard man testing booths at a center in Manila on May 13, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- The Philippines is looking to expand its COVID-19 testing program to include suspected cases who do not exhibit any symptoms of the disease, an official said Thursday as the government worked to improve its testing capacity.

With the country's capacity to run 40,000 COVID-19 tests daily, asymptomatic patients will soon be tested as well, COVID-19 policy deputy chief implementer and Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President Vince Dizon said.

"Ngayon po, dahil sa malaking capacity na natin nationwide, lalo na po sa Visayas at sa Mindanao, puwede na po tayong lumampas pa sa mga may sintomas," he said in a Palace press briefing.

(Because we have improved our testing capacity especially in Visayas and Mindanao, we can test beyond the symptomatic cases.)

"At dapat po, ang ating goal na ngayon sa expanded targeted testing ay ang paghahanap at pagti-test ng mga asymptomatic – iyon pong mga kababayan natin na wala pong masyadong sintomas," he added.

(Our goal now is to find and test asymptomatic persons.)

Under the government's expanded targeted COVID-19 testing program, symptomatic patients and health workers on the frontlines of the battle against the pandemic are prioritized for testing.

Dizon said the government is working to include other frontliners such as uniformed personnel and supermarket staff in the expanded testing program.

"Importanteng-importante din na palawakin natin ang targeted expanded testing natin sa ating mga frontliners kahit na po sila ay walang sintomas," he said.

(It's very important to expand our targeted testing program to include frontliners without symptoms.)
 
To localize testing efforts, Dizon said the national government would capacitate local communities particularly in densely populated areas such as Metro Manila, Central Luzon, the Southern Tagalog Region, Cebu, and Davao.

Dizon, however, acknowledged that the country's testing capacity is far from the number of actual COVID-19 tests done by the government.

Actual COVID-19 tests the government runs daily remain far behind, peaking only between 11,000 and 12,000 based on data from the Department of Health.

As of Wednesday, the Philippines has confirmed 19,748 COVID-19 cases. This includes 974 deaths and 4,153 recoveries.