Philippines' health chief wants 24-hour COVID-19 testing


Posted at Apr 17 2020 09:33 AM | Updated as of Apr 17 2020 10:11 AM

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Philippines eyes 10,000 coronavirus tests a day by end-April

Laboratories should run 24-hour shifts for testing for the novel coronavirus, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Friday, a month into the lockdown of millions in Luzon to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippines has 16 testing sites and 30 more are "in the pipeline." Authorities aim to run 8,000 to 10,000 tests per day by the end of April, said Duque.

"Marami tayong mga laboratoryo ngayon, pero sabi ko nga, doblehin iyong operating hours. Hindi puwedeng 8 hours lang iyan, dapat iyan 3 shifts or 24 hours para talaga dumoble, trumiple ang kanilang testing output," he told DZMM.

(We have many laboratories but we need to double the operating hours. That can't be 8 hours only, there should be 3 shifts or 24 hours so that their testing output would double, triple.)

The laboratories in the next few days can yield "a good approximation of the epidemic curve" or the rate of increase of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Central Luzon, he said.

Duque said he would also personally inspect a COVID-19 testing laboratory in Marikina that the local government insisted on opening Friday even without the health department's approval.

The lab has yet to train its personnel and install some machines, said Duque, citing the latest update from Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The Philippines as of Thursday confirmed 5,660 cases of the respiratory disease, with 362 deaths and 435 patients who recovered.

Luzon, home to around half of the Philippines' 100 million people, is on lockdown until April 30 to halt the spread of COVID-19.

DZMM, April 17, 2020