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DILG pushes for standard, lowered price of COVID-19 swab tests

The Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is calling for a standard price of the Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test for COVID-19, noting that it must have a lower price so more people can avail the swab test.

"Mas marami ang mabibigyan ng pagkakataong magpa-swab test kung pare-pareho ang presyo nito sa mga pribado at gobyernong ospital,” DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said in a statement issued Friday.

“Iyan ang isang mabisang paraan para mapigil ang pagkalat ng COVID-19 virus," he added.

He cited a report saying that the cost of RT-PCR test, which is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, ranges from P4,000 to P13,000. He said the price range is "way above the purchasing power of ordinary Filipinos."

Año claimed that most Filipinos would rather spend their money to buy food and other necessities and just follow the minimum health protocols to prevent being infected with the disease.

Año supported the call of House Deputy Speaker 1-Pacman party-list Representative Mikee Romero for the Department of Health to immediately address public complaints regarding the different prices of swab tests.

He further endorsed Romero's proposal for hospitals to provide free regular swab tests to their medical personnel who cannot afford the tests. 

"Our health workers are among our frontliners who are making a big sacrifice by caring for COVID patients and preventing people from contracting the virus," Año said.

"We should make sure that the number of our health workers would increase, not diminish by regularly subjecting them to swab tests,"  he added.

In August, the Department of Labor and Employment noted that workers in the hospitality, tourism, and manufacturing sectors as well as frontliners and economic priority employees should be given free swab tests for COVID-19. — Anna Felicia Bajo/RSJ, GMA News