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Pooled testing to start in Makati with pools of five

The private sector is set to start its pooled testing initiative in groups of five, with Makati City as the pilot area for the initiative led by Presidential adviser for entrepreneurship Jose Ma. "Joey" Concepcion III.

In a virtual briefing on Monday, Concepcion said the pooled testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) will initially cover pools of five and will be ramped up to cover more moving forward.

"Dito sa Pilipinas, gagamitin namin five samples to a test kit," he said.

Under pooled testing, samples will be collected from a group of people, in this case five, which will then be combined and be tested using one kit.

"If a test kit tests positive then you have to test everybody in that kit, but they will not have to swab samples because 'yung samples, nandiyan so kukunin nila. They will keep the samples," said Concepcion.

According to Concepcion, pooled testing will be faster and cheaper as it covers more people using less kits.

"Kung 'yung prevalence natin, 'yung infection level ay babagsak, then they can be more aggressive and increase that down the road to pools of 10, so that would bring down the cost to around P750 in pools of five," he said.

"The speed of testing will be faster because you will have now five people to a test kit rather than one person to a test kit," he added.

Malacañang welcomed the use of pooled testing.

“Itong pooled testing ibig sabihin, times five na ang actual testing natin, divided by five na ang cost at mas mabilis,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.

Makati City will be the pilot area for the initiative, with the testing initiative set to cover other areas in the National Capital Region.

"Ang priority namin, Makati muna ang mauuna with Mayor Binay and then 'yung remaining cities in NCR at one municipality, isusuporta ng private sector," said Concepcion.

Among the private sector partners for the initiative are Ayala Corp., BDO Foundation, First Philippine Holdings Corp., GT Capital Holdings Inc., LT Group Inc., Mercury Drug, National Grid Corporation of the Philippines, PLDT-Smart Foundation, RFM Corp., Unilab, Wilcon Depot, Yazaki-Torres Manufacturing Inc., and the Federaion of Filipino Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. through Go Negosyo.

As of Sunday, August 16, 2020, the Philippines has recorded a total of 161,253 confirmed cases of COVID-19. This includes 112,856 recoveries, and 2,665 deaths. —With Virgil Lopez/KBK/LDF, GMA News