Philippines to reach past 2 million COVID-19 tests by August: Dizon

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 30 2020 06:34 PM

Health workers conduct their routine swab testing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on their fellow hospital employees at the Sta. Ana Hospital in Manila on April 14, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines is eyeing to reach over 2 million COVID-19 tests by August, the country's testing czar said Thursday as the government starts the pilot run of pooled testing.

The country has already run some 1.4 million tests by July, testing czar Vince Dizon said, noting that the government aims to test 10 million Filipinos.

"Kampante rin po tayo na ngayong buwan ng Agosto ay itong 1.4 million na ito ay hihigit na sa 2 milyon, ngayong buwan ng Agosto," Dizon said during a Palace press briefing.

(We are confident that by August, this 1.4 million will increase to over 2 million.)

The country, which has the capacity to run over 50,000 COVID-19 tests a day, currently averages some 33,000 actual tests daily, Dizon said.

Dizon noted that the Philippines aims to surpass South Korea in terms of the conducted COVID-19 tests. 

Seoul, which was badly hit by the pandemic early on this year, has ran some 1.5 million tests. The country has an estimated population of over 50 million or half of the Philippines' 100-million people.

To run more tests, Dizon said the Philippines is studying pooled testing to detect the virus faster among more people.

The pilot run is already being conducted with the help of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the private sector, he said.

"'Pag ito ay na-validate na ng RITM at DOH (Department of Health) ay puwede na natin gamitin ito," Dizon said.

(Once this is validated by RITM and DOH, we can already use it.)

With pooled testing, samples from a group of individuals would be tested as one. If the results come back negative, everyone in the group is cleared of COVID-19. But if the results return positive, each individual will be tested separately for the virus.

The Philippines, as of July 29, has confirmed 85,486 COVID-19 cases, of which 56,528 are active cases.

The country has also reported 1,962 deaths due to the virus and 26,996 recoveries.