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Gov't eyeing testing of asymptomatic individuals for COVID-19 -Dizon

The government is eyeing to include in its "expanded targeted testing" individuals that don't exhibit COVID-19 symptoms to intensify efforts against transmission, the official in charge of the overall testing measures said Thursday.

“Dahil sa malaking maximum capacity natin lalo na sa Visayas at Mindanao, puwede na tayong lumampas sa may sintomas at ang dapat po nating goal ngayon sa expanded targeted testing ay pagte-test ng asymptomatic indviduals,” said Vince Dizon, the deputy chief implementer of the government’s response against COVID-19, at a press briefing.

Dizon, who leads the government's COVID-19 testing efforts, said this new goal will be possible with the country's maximum testing capacity now at 41,000 per day, with 52 laboratories processing results.

But despite the capacity, Dizon said actual tests done per day are just around 10,000.

“Sa buong bansa po at sa buong mundo, 98% po ng mga COVID-19 cases ay asymptomatic o may mild symptoms. 2% lang po ang critical, kaya kailangan po talaga mapalawak ang ating targeted testing,” he said.

Under the existing Department of Health protocol, only those with COVID-19 symptoms such as flu and fever and those with exposure to COVID-19 patients, including returning overseas Filipino workers, are subjected to mandatory COVID-19 tests.

“Kapag mas marami po taong mati-test, mas mapipigilan po natin ang pagkalat ng virus at mas maraming buhay po tayong maisasalba,” Dizon pointed out.

Dizon said testing the asymptomatic individuals should be prioritized in highly populous areas such as the National Capital Region, Region 3 (Central Luzon), Region 4A (Calabarzon) and the cities of Cebu and Davao, among other big cities.

“We will start will our frontliners na maraming exposure, at hindi lang medical frontliners kung hindi pati na rin transport workers, guards and  cashiers,” he said.

Dizon also assured the public that the actual testing capacity will begin to increase by next week with the arrival of the bulk of laboratory supplies.

“Yung supply po ng laboratory materials sa buong mundo, very limited po, pero ina-assure po tayo ng Department of Budget and Management na yung ating mga malalaking order, kasama ang testing kits, ay darating sa susunod na linggo,” he said.

“Pagdating po nitong mga supply, mama-maximize na po natin ang ating testing capacity. Iyong 10,000 a day, tataas na po ‘yan.”

The Philippines has recorded 19,748 COVID-19 cases so far. Of this number, 4,153 recovered while 974 died. --KBK, GMA News