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DOH exec on COVID-19 mass testing: It is not efficient for us right now

The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said it is not feasible to conduct mass testing for coronavirus disease 2019 infection yet since resources for such are still limited.

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the department cannot conduct mass testing given the capacity of their resources.

“Sa ngayon po, ang mass testing , unang-unang because of our resources, hindi pa po yan advisable. It’s not efficient for us right now,” she said.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said the DOH could be missing half of the actual total number of COVID-19 cases in the country due to the limited testing capacity of laboratories.

The DOH also said that supplies of testing kits have been pouring in from different countries such as China, South Korea, and Singapore.

Test kits for COVID-19 are not like pregnancy tests which can be taken personally, the Food and Drug Administration said. Only accredited laboratories with the specialization can administer them.

Duque said at least seven laboratories now have the capacity to conduct testing.

With these developments, the Philippines can only conduct almost 1,000 tests for COVID-19 every day, according to the DOH.

Vergeire said if the country ever acquires enough resources to conduct mass testing, she urged that lockdown should be strictly implemented in the community to ensure its efficacy to control further transmission of the virus.

“In other countries ginawa po nila ‘yan at naging effective sa kanila kasi ang kanilang lockdown was really implemented well,” she said.

“Kailangan pa nating palawigin ang ating pagpapatupad (ng lockdown) bago natin magawa kung sakaling dumating ang puntong meron tayong ganyang resources,” she added.

As of Sunday, the DOH has tested at least 1,513 patients. Of which, 380 turned positive for COVID-19 including 25 fatalities, 662 tested negative, while the results for the 471 patients are still pending. — Joviland Rita/RSJ, GMA News