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Dizon admits Philippines’ COVID-19 testing not enough

National Task Force Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon acknowledged Wednesday that the country is not conducting enough tests to help curb the spread of the coronavirus.

“Last week, our peak testing was 80,000 plus a day with an average of close to 70,000 a day—this is our highest ever,” Dizon, who is also the government’s testing czar, said at a Palace news conference.

“Now to the question, is it enough? I don’t think it’s enough to be honest.”

Dizon, however, reiterated that the government follows a risk-based strategy, meaning only persons with symptoms, close contacts of a COVID-19 patient, or persons coming from areas with high cases of COVID-19 would be subjected to testing.

He said the government also has to spend for contact tracing, isolation of COVID-19 cases, and vaccination.

“We are already spending P160 million a day both from the pockets of our citizens who are paying for the test and also from PhilHealth who is paying for the test of those that are qualified to be tested. It’s a big amount,” he said.

There have been calls for the government to ramp up testing amid the circulation of coronavirus variants that are more transmissible than the original strain.

“Napakadali po kasing magsalita at magsabi ng mga ganitong mga rekomendasyon, pero siguro po dapat pag-isipan din natin iyong practical na pagsasagawa nitong mga rekomendasyon na ito, given lahat ng restrictions at constraints natin sa paglaban sa COVID-19," Dizon said.

[It’s easy to make such a recommendation, but we have to consider also its practical implications given the restrictions and constraints in our fight against COVID-19.]

On Wednesday, the Department of Health said the country’s positivity rate stood at 26.4% on August 30 based on 51,473 tests.

The World Health Organization’s benchmark for the positivity rate is 5% or lower. — BM, GMA News