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Philippines will have enough COVID-19 testing kits — Duque

Alexis Romero - Philstar.com
Philippines will have enough COVID-19 testing kits â Duque
The COVID-19 test kit developed by scientists from the University of the Philippines is presented at the Philippine Genome Center in Quezon City on March 12, 2020.
The STAR / Michael Varcas

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health is optimistic that the Philippines will have enough testing kits as it grapples with the rapidly rising cases of the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said 500 testing kits from South Korea arrived last Friday and about 5,000 to 10,000 units more are expected to be delivered this week. He said his agency has also received 2,000 testing kits from China and another 10,000 units may arrive on Wednesday.

"Slowly, we are acquiring the capability to test many people," Duque said at a press briefing Monday night in Malacañang.

"I think we will have enough (testing kits)...We can enhance our capability to examine the throat and nose swabs of the PUIs (patients under investigation)... We really need to ensure their quality and accuracy," he added.

Health officials previously admitted that the lack of testing kits may have caused the possible "underreporting" of COVID-19 cases. The Philippines has 142 confirmed cases of COVID-19 as of Monday.

Duque said for now, most of the testing kits being used came from the World Health Organization. He noted that the provision of testing kits by the international body may be affected by global supply chain limitations.

To address the problem, the University of the Philippines Manila National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) worked with the private sector and invented a machine that conducts  rapid diagnostic tests. Duque said experts are conducting tests to ensure the accuracy of the machine.

"So once of all these are satisfied and after say 200 to 300 parallel runs are achieved with high level of confidence as to the results, it can be rolled out in the UP-NIH lab or in the LCP (Lung Center of the Philippines) lab or in the five sub-national labs," the health chief said.

"For now, there are limitations...We need to rationalize the testing in the face of limitations," he added.

Duque noted that his agency has P240 million budget for testing approved by the economic team last week.

"That’s on top of the donations coming from Sokor (South Korea) and China," he said.

2019 N-COV NOVEL CORONAVIRUS
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