Galvez: More than 500,000 coronavirus tests conducted in PH

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 20 2020 12:08 AM

MANILA—The Philippines has conducted more than half a million COVID-19 tests, according to a government official on Friday.

National Task Force on COVID-19 chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said that, despite the number, the country has yet to reach its initial goal of conducting 30,000 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per day. 

He said, however, that close to 15,000 COVID-19 tests were conducted on June 16, adding that they look to “dramatically” ramp up testing in the country beginning next week, with the arrival of additional supplies.

“The procurement of 230,857 RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) kits, which can approximately test 8,544,282 individuals, will be arriving soon. Also PS-DBM (Budget and Management — Procurement Service) will procure an additional 15,700 test kits. This can test 1,293,750 more individuals,” Galvez said.

“Having all these test kits, we will now be able to test 9,838,032 in total. Meaning halos 10 million ang mate-test natin ngayon.”

The Philippines currently has 62 accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories. Of this figure, 40 are public and 22 are private. More than 150 other laboratories are awaiting accreditation.

“Halos lahat po ng region mayroon na pong laboratoriyo, except for Caraga. Minamadali na po natin ang accreditation ng kanilang tatlong laboratoriyo,” Galvez said.

Hatid-Probinsya program to be ‘temporarily’ regulated

Meanwhile, Galvez apologized for locally stranded individuals (LSI) and OFWs who tested positive for COVID-19 returning to their provinces. 

He said authorities will “temporarily regulate” the Hatid Probinsya program, which facilitates the return of stranded individuals to their respective home provinces.

“Sa ngayon isinasaayos na po natin ang ating proseso at protocol. We are temporarily regulating ang Hatid Probinsya para makasiguro tayo na ligtas ang mga lugar na kanilang pupuntahan,” Galvez said.

“Hopefully pagka dumating na po ang test kits at consumables, pwede na pong isama sa mga test ang mga LSI. Iyan po ay iaayos natin para talagang walang makakalusot sa ating LSIs.”

The government has facilitated the return of 30,495 LSIs and 54,260 OFWs to their respective provinces. It is expecting the arrival of 42,000 more OFWs in the coming months. The government is also preparing to receive 5,000 stranded individuals from Sabah.

“We will proceed to Zamboanga City next week to coordinate with BARMM and the city government,” Galvez said.

The government will also assess the national action plan against COVID-19 and prepare the second phase of its concept of operations to address the resurgence of COVID-19 in Cebu and other critical areas.

Augmented health personnel in Cebu

To help respond to the spike in COVID-19 cases in Cebu, the Department of Health-Region 7 has augmented the number of its personnel, according to Galvez. Major hospitals in Cebu are also putting up additional rooms to accommodate more patients.

“Nag-issue po ang ating Department of Health na after 14 days or 21 days na wala pong symptoms ang pasyente, he is considered clinically healed, pwede na po nating discharge,” Galvez said.

The province received 25 noninvasive ventilators, 42,000 personal protective equipment, and 16,000 N95 masks.

The DOH central office also sent a surveillance team to Cebu last Thursday to look into the COVID-19 situation there. The province has 19 critical areas, double that of Metro Manila, which has 8 critical areas.

Galvez urged local officials in the province to set aside politics.
“ ’Wag tayo magkaroon ng blame game, walang mangyayari diyan,” Galvez said.

“Kailangan po nating magtulungan at isantabi ang pulitika at magsama-sama po tayo, mga doktor, nurses at businessmen, tulungan po natin ang local leaders upang tuluyang sugpuin ang COVID-19.”