PH to begin testing asymptomatic individuals

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 3) — The Philippine government is boosting COVID-19 testing efforts to now include people who not showing flu-like symptoms, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Friday.

Roque said members of the COVID-19 task force, where he serves as the spokesman, approved expanding the testing strategy to also cover asymptomatic individuals to fully utilize the 10 million Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test kits procured by the Budget and Health Departments.

"Ngayon po isasama na rin natin ang mga asymptomatic, mga manggagawa, mga frontliners gaya ng media, subject to final guidelines," he said in a media briefing.

COVID-19 Response Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon previously said the country's increased testing capacity will also help the national government expand the targeted testing to asymptomatic patients.

Authorities have set the goal of testing one million people by the end of July. National government data showed the country has already conducted over 738,000 coronavirus tests.

Back in May, Roque said the government did not have a program for mass testing and is leaving efforts to employers to test returning workers in the private sector. Back then, asymptomatic persons are not subject to testing unless they had contact with a patient.

Several groups have long called on the national government to provide free mass testing to Filipinos to curb the spread of COVID-19. On Friday, People’s groups led by former Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, through the National Union People’s Lawyers, asked the Supreme Court to compel officials leading the country’s COVID-19 response to conduct mass testing and efficient contact tracing.

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