DOH clarifies: COVID-19 test kits from China assessed, 'at par' with WHO standards

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 29)— The Health Department clarified Sunday that the COVID-19 test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed and were deemed "at par" with international health standards.

"The Department of Health wishes to clarify that the initial 2,000 BGI RT-PCR test kits and the 100,000 Sansure RT-PCR test kits donated by the Chinese government have been assessed by the RITM to be at par with test kits provided by the World Health Organization after parallel testing were done," the DOH said in its statement.

The issue came after Health Undersecretary Ma. Rosario Vergeire revealed that a batch of test kit donations from China generated a low accuracy rate.

"Sa mga naunang pinadala sa amin na test kits from China, na nakapagpakita ng 40 percent accuracy, hindi po namin ito ginamit dahil nakita nga po na mababa po ang accuracy natin dito. Kaya ito na lang po ay ating itinago," Vergeire said in a media briefing Saturday.

[Translation: The test kits earlier sent to us by China and showed only 40 percent accuracy, we will not be using these because of the low accuracy. We have put these in storage instead.]

The department, however, said the products mentioned during the briefing referred to "another brand" of test kits which were only proposed to be donated by a private foundation.

The DOH has since apologized for the "confusion" from its earlier statement.

The Chinese embassy also earlier denied that the inaccurate test kits came from them, saying that the country's donations "are of high quality and standards and have no accuracy problems."

The Philippines has tallied over 1,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19, with the Health Department reporting 272 new cases on Saturday. Sixty-eight patients have died due to the infectious disease, while 35 have recovered.