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DOH: Licensed labs up to 83; over 19,000 tests conducted daily in past week

The Philippines now has 83 laboratories that have been licensed to conduct independent testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 62 polymerase chain reaction facilities and 21 GeneXpert laboratories have been accredited by the DOH.

“Ang mga nadagdag na laboratories ay ang QualiMed Health Delivery System [sa] San Jose Del Monte, Parkway Diagnostics, at Philippine Airport Diagnostics,” she said in a briefing.

As of July 9, the operational laboratories have tested 825,139 individuals, 61,964 of whom tested positive for COVID-19 for a positivity rate of 7.5 percent.

Vergeire added that the average number of tests conducted daily from July 1 to 7 was 19,459.

“Bukod po dito, noong July 7 po ay nakapag-record po tayo ng highest number of tests conducted in a single day kung saan nakapagsagawa po tayo ng 23,104 tests in a day,” she said.

The government earlier said its goal was to conduct 30,000 tests per day by May 30. Months later, laboratories are still hard-pressed to consistently breach the 20,000 mark in daily tests conducted. 

The DOH previously explained that operational constraints were preventing laboratories from operating at their maximum capacity.

Meanwhile, Vergeire pointed out that the country did not have the resources to conduct COVID-19 testing when the first case was recorded in January in response to presidential spokesman Harry Roque’s comment that the Philippines could have expanded its testing capacity much earlier into the pandemic. 

“Dahil bago po ang virus noong Enero ay wala po tayong kakayahang magsagawa ng test para dito at sa halip ay pinapadala po natin no’ng una ang mga specimens natin sa Australia para magpa-test,” she said.

“Sa kabila ng mga initial challenges na ito, malayo na po ang ating narating. Mula sa iisang laboratoryo na kayang gumawa lang ng RT-PCR test para sa COVID-19 noong Pebrero... meron na po tayong 83 licensed laboratories sa buong bansa,” she added.

The Philippines has logged 51,754 confirmed cases with 12,813 recoveries and 1,314 deaths as of Thursday afternoon.  — RSJ, GMA News