PH to further expand testing criteria as it expects test kits for 10 million people

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 06 2020 02:45 PM

MANILA — More frontliners may be given priority in the Philippines’ COVID-19 testing protocol, the Department of Health said Monday. 

“We have this proposed amendment to the expanded testing protocol,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a Monday morning briefing. 

“It has already been approved by IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID-19) last week. And we are now drafting the specific guidelines.”

“I-include na nito 'yung ibang frontliners,” she added.

(We will include the other frontliners.)

“So itong expanded testing protocol na ilalabas natin would just not include itong ating current subgroups A to F. Magkakaroon pa tayo ng additional 3 subgroups kasama dito,” Vergeire said.

(So this expanded testing protocol that we will release would not just include our current subgroups A to F. There will also be 3 additional subgroups.)

The health official said they are hoping that the arriving test kits, which would allow them to test 10 million people, would be ready for the expanded testing.

The original expanded testing guidelines (Department Memorandum 2020-0151) released last March only included the following groups:

  • Subgroup A: Patients or healthcare workers with severe/critical symptoms, relevant history of travel/contact 
  • Subgroup B: Patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, relevant history of travel/contact, and considered vulnerable 
  • Subgroup C: Patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, relevant history of travel/contact 
  • Subgroup D: Patients or healthcare workers with no symptoms but relevant history of travel/contact)

In June, the DOH issued the updated protocol, including two more subgroups. Subgroup E include frontliners who man quarantine facilities, members of the barangay health emergency response team, personnel of the Bureau of Corrections and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and social workers. Meanwhile, Subgroup F includes vulnerable patients such as pregnant women, elderly, and people with immunocompromised conditions.

Last week, the IATF said it would include asymptomatic patients in the updated protocol.