PH now conducts 4,500 COVID-19 tests per day with additional accredited laboratory

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The country can now conduct 4,500 COVID-19 tests daily as health officials accredited another laboratory to start testing, the Department of Health said Friday. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 24) — The country can now conduct 4,500 COVID-19 tests daily as health officials accredited another laboratory to start testing, the Department of Health said Friday.

The agency said it approved the Philippine Genome Center in Quezon City as a new testing facility. The laboratory as well as combined efforts of the private and health sector will aid in achieving its goal of 8,000 tests per day by the end of the month, said DOH. This means the agency aims to increase testing capacity by 80 percent or another 3,500 tests daily in the next six days to achieve their target.

"Patuloy ang pag-iikot ng lab team upang maassess ang mga nag-aapply for licensing. Patuloy rin po ang proficiency testing sa mga stage 4 na laboratoryo upang masigurado natin na accurate ang mga procedure nila," said Health Spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire in the DOH daily virtual briefing.

[Translation: Our lab team continues to visit those centers applying for licensing. Proficiency testing for stage 4 (or accredited) laboratories is also ongoing to ensure that their procedures are accurate.]

However, the Inter-agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has an even bigger goal of 17,000 tests daily by May 15, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said Friday. As it stands, the country's testing capacity is only less than five percent of this ultimate target.

But Lopez said it is attainable if businesses will operate again since some companies want to procure test kits and even provide their own testing services.

"If we allow the private sector to operate again, it might help in increasing the testing capacity and they will augment whatever government is doing also in increasing the testing capacity," Lopez told CNN Philippines' News Night.

He reiterated what experts have stated that the higher testing capacity should only be for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests, which is the gold standard for detecting COVID-19.

Dr. Tony Leachon, special adviser to the COVID-19 national task force, also projected that the country will hit 15,000 tests per day before May 15 with the extension of the enhanced community quarantine in high-risk areas.

The laboratories combined so far tested 68,765 individuals. The agency reported that there are 7,192 cases in the Philippines with 762 recoveries and 477 deaths as of Friday. DOH maintained that the total number of tests include repeat tests and cases for validation.

The Philippine Genome Center joins the UP National Institutes of Health, Chinese General Hospital and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila; Philippine Red Cross and Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory in Mandaluyong; Lung Center of the Philippines, St. Luke’s Medical Center and Victoriano Luna Hospital in Quezon City; The Medical City in Pasig; Makati Medical Center; St. Luke’s Medical Center-BGC in Taguig and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, Inc. in Muntinlupa.

Outside Metro Manila, there is also the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu; Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao; Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo; and the Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory in Legazpi City.