Philippines' daily COVID-19 testing capacity climbs to 40,000

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 04 2020 03:53 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 - The Philippines can already run over 40,000 tests for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) per day, the deputy chief implementer of the country's pandemic response said Thursday, although actual tests conducted daily remain far behind.

The maximum COVID-19 testing capacity of the country has increased further to 41,990, Bases and Conversion Development Authority (BCDA) President and COVID-19 policy deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon said.

The government earlier reported having achieved a 32,000-tests daily capacity.

"Nalampasan po natin ang ating goal na 30,000 testing capacity sa Mayo, at ngayon po ay nasa 41,990 na po tayo," Dizon said in a Palace press briefing.

(We have exceeded our goal of 30,000 testing capacity for May, and now we can run 41,990 tests.)

The Philippine Red Cross accounts for the biggest bulk of the testing capacity since its facilities can run 12,000 COVID-19 tests per day, Dizon said. 

The country currently has 52 COVID-19 testing laboratories, 19 of which are from the private sector.

With the increase in testing capacity, Dizon said the government can expand its testing to include persons who are suspected to be sick with COVID-19 but are asymptomatic.

"Dapat po, ang goal na na natin ngayon sa expanded targeted testing ay ang paghahanap at pagte-test ng mga asymptomatic," he said.

(We should now expand testing to include asymptomatic persons.)

But even with the improved testing capacity, actual COVID-19 tests in the country only peaked to no more than 12,000 in a single day.

Graph by the ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire had said daily COVID-19 tests in the country were averaging between 8,000 and 9,000, and attributed to operational issues the failure to match the actual tests with the maximum capacity.

As of June 3, the Philippines has confirmed 19,748 COVID-19 cases, including 974 deaths and 4,153 recoveries.