National Task Force (NTF) COVID-19 Response Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon said the government targets to increase its testing capacity to 50,000 per day and is now currently at 42,000. He said the actual tests done, however, is only at 10,000.
“Ang testing capacity po ay nasa 42,000 per day na po. Ito ang testing capacity ng 52 laboratories. Ang kailangan nating gawin ay itaas natin ang actual test na nasa 10,000 pa lang po ang ating nagagawa kada araw,” said Dizon.
[The testing capacity is at 42,000 per already. This is the testing capacity of 42 laboratories. What we need to do now is raise the number of actual tests that is now just at 10,000 per day.]
But the average of actual individuals tested from May 16 to June 2 (last reported) is only 7,606. The average of actual tests done per day in the last 18 days is at 8,382. The government’s testing capacity target was 20,000 by May 15 and 30,000 by May 30.
Data from DOH
Dizon is also dubbed the government’s testing czar who heads the Test, Trace, Treat or T3 program.
“Puwede na po tayong lumampas pa sa mga may sintomas. Dapat po ang goal na natin ngayon sa expanded targeted testing ay ang paghahanap at pagte-test ng mga asymptomatic,” he said.
[We can now go beyond testing those with symptoms. Our goal now in our expanded targeted testing should be to look for and test asymptomatic cases.]
He said the next goal in the government’s “expanded targeted testing” is to test people who have no symptoms. The government has only so far tested those with symptoms, he said.
“Alam niyo po sa Pilipinas at sa buong mundo, halos po 98% po ng mga kaso ng COVID-19 ay asymptomatic, 2% lang po ang mga may kritikal at grabeng pakiramdam at sakit.”
[You know, in the Philippines and in the world, almost 98% of cases of COVID-19 are asymptomatic, only 2% are with critical or severe symptoms and illness.]
Based on the Department of Health (DOH) data, only 827 of the confirmed cases or 5.7 percent were asymptomatic. The 93.8 percent or 13,712 of the active cases in the country have mild symptoms.
DOH Francisco Duque III in explaining why the government is not testing asymptomatic individuals said in a Senate hearing on May 20 that even the World Health Organization does not have evidence that asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 are contagious. He also explained that the country’s testing capacity is “limited” so the DOH can only test and/or conduct epidemiological surveillance on people with flu-like illness and those with severe acute respiratory infection through the local health offices.
To do this, he said the government needs to test people in densely populated communities in National Capital Region, Central Luzon, CALABARZON, Cebu, Davao and other big cities.
The government would also test all frontliners, even those without symptoms, not only medical frontliners but also transport workers, police, security guards and cashiers.
Under the current testing guidelines of the DOH, not all healthworkers in the frontlines are to be tested. The following persons will be subjected to COVID-19 tests:
- All symptomatic individuals
- Individuals arriving from overseas
- All close contacts of COVID-19 patients (contact tracing)
- Those who tested positive in rapid antibody test results
Dizon also said the country has a total of 52 COVID-19 testing laboratories, 33 of them government labs and 19 in the private sector.
In its virtual press briefing later in the day, the DOH said they have accredited 30 laboratories to conduct reverse transmission-polymerase chain reaction tests.
More than 20,000 confirmed cases
The DOH reported on June 4 the confirmed COVID-19 cases has reached 20,382. But positive cases has long ago breached 20,000 and is now at 25,982.
The DOH also continues to report fresh cases and late cases, meaning there is still a testing backlog. Total cases reported today number to 634, with fresh cases 313 and late cases at 321. Ten new deaths were reported today, bringing the total to 984.