Manpower shortage is 'biggest challenge' in coronavirus testing: official

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 16 2020 11:38 AM | Updated as of Jul 16 2020 12:58 PM

Health workers administer swab testing for coronavirus to frontliners and residents at the San Juan Elementary School Gym in San Juan City on May 12, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News/File

MANILA — A shortage of personnel remains the "biggest challenge" to the Philippines' coronavirus testing drive, an official leading the effort said Thursday. 

Lack of laboratories initially hounded the campaign. But the Philippines has increased its screening capacity to 85 laboratories that can run about 25,000 tests per day, said testing czar Vince Dizon. 

"Now that we already have 85 labs, our supplies are coming in, our biggest challenge now is personnel," he told ANC.

As an example, Dizon cited the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, the country's biggest testing lab, which recently downgraded screenings after some personnel caught the respiratory disease. 

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"Getting more medical technologists, getting more lab personnel is a big challenge. And we have to really find a way to address this by even maybe asking for volunteers from our schools to provide us with skilled technicians," said Dizon, who is also deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force on COVID-19. 

The Philippines has tested some 1 million people or about 1 percent of the population, he said. 

The health department as of Wednesday confirmed 58,850 coronavirus infections, of which 36,260 are active cases.