DTI: Companies willing to test own employees to boost PH mass testing capacity

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) – Department of Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon Lopez disclosed on Friday that the private sector pledged to help increase the country’s COVID-19 mass testing capacity by setting up their own testing facilities for their employees.

Lopez emphasized that this move will add more testing facilities and testing kits in the country, thus benefiting the nation’s fight against the viral disease that has infected 7,192 individuals and claimed 477 lives based on the Department of Health's Friday tally.

“If we allow the private sector to operate again, it might help in increasing the testing capacity and help the government," Lopez said in an interview with CNN Philippines’ Pia Hontiveros. "They will augment whatever the government is doing in increasing the testing capacity."

Lopez encouraged the business sector to use the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test in assessing if their employees have contracted the lethal virus.

Doon na binabase talaga ang capacity," he pointed out. "The rapid test is basically aiding only. Pero ang bilangan, nandoon sa PCR."

[Translation: That (PCR test) is the basis of the capacity. The rapid test is basically aiding only. But the real count is based on the PCR.]

The trade czar expressed hope that the business sector's initiative will help the national government achieve its target of 17,000 tests per day by May 15.

“That will help us in coming up with the possible lifting after May 15,” said Lopez.

In a taped TV message aired Friday morning, President Rodrigo Duterte announced the extension of the enhanced community quarantine until May 15 in some parts of Luzon, including Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Luzon regions.

Some areas in the country such as Cainta, City of Manila, Valenzuela, Taguig, Cavite, and Eastern Visayas have started their COVID-19 mass testing efforts.

The country now conducts 4,500 COVID-19 tests per day and has a total of 18 mass testing centers nationwide, as the Philippine Genome Center in Quezon City got its certification Friday from the Department of Health.

Meanwhile, Lopez appealed to law enforcers to allow vehicles carrying essential and frontline workers easily pass in all quarantine checkpoints in the country.

“Unfortunately, that problem continues to crop up," he noted. "That has to be solved."