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Philippines await 3,000 US-made COVID-19 test kits expected to yield results faster

A test kit that can detect the COVID-19 virus faster than a polymerase chain reaction machine (PCR) will soon be delivered to the Philippines from a US-based company, the Department of Health said on Monday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the company Cepheid has developed a US Food and Drug Administration-approved cartridge specifically for the detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID

“Ina-antay po natin ngayon ang pagdating ng 3,000 Cepheid GeneXpert cartridges na idi-distribute po natin sa ating mga laboratoryo na mayroon pong expert machines na compatible dito,” Vergeire said at a virtual press briefing.

“Ang GeneXpert ay isang test na kasalukuyang gamit para sa diagnosis ng tuberculosis. Automated na ang prosesong ito at mas mabilis makakuha ng resulta kumpara sa PCR machines,” Vergeire added.

The Cepheid test kits will be used along with the ones developed by the University of the Philippines.

PCR-based tests are considered by the Department of Health (DOH) as the “gold standard” in COVID-19 testing as they produce accurate and reliable results.

Fifteen laboratories nationwide have so far been certified to conduct independent COVID-19 testing through the use of PCR machines.

Vergeire said the Cepheid test kits are among the testing approaches that the DOH is exploring in the fight against COVID-19.

“Kasabay po ng pagpapaigting ng ating testing capacity, ang Kagawaran po ay tuloy tuloy ding nagpapagawa ng facilities upang sapat na matugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga COVID-19 patients,” she added.

The chief implementer of the government’s COVID-19 response earlier said over 2,600 quarantine facilities had been established nationwide to cater to over 165,000 patients.

Vergeire added that the number of COVID-19 referral hospitals in the country has risen to 75, which can accommodate a total of 3,194 patients. -NB, GMA News