Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at the Laging Handa press briefing that they have already conducted a total of 22,958 tests.
Manila HealthTek Inc., Facebook/File
DOH: Over 22,000 tests conducted
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - April 7, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has performed more than 22,000 tests for coronavirus disease 2019 so far, and the number is expected to increase in the coming days as the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity ramps up, a DOH official reported yesterday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said at the Laging Handa press briefing that they have already conducted a total of 22,958 tests. Of the total, 16,615 or 82.7 percent turned out negative while 3,414 or 16.9 percent yielded positive results.

Vergeire said the country’s testing capacity is improving as more testing kits and laboratories become available.

In an interview, she explained that there was a difference of 64 tests because the total tests conducted were more than the number of individuals tested.

She added that a person who tests positive for COVID “may have two to three tests in the course of his illness.”

Philippine Red Cross chairman Richard Gordon announced that the PRC is setting up testing centers initially in Metro Manila where most of the COVID-19 cases come from.

Gordon said one of the testing centers would be Manila and the other two in Mandaluyong City. 

He said other testing centers would be set up in other parts of the country like at the University of the Philippines in Los Baños, Laguna; Batangas, Clark in Pampanga, Cebu, Cagayan de Oro City, Zamboanga, Davao del Sur and in Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. Gordon said the goal is to do around 1,000 tests a day.

COVID-19 patients admitted between Feb. 1 and April 14, 2020 “who paid hospital bills will be reimbursed in full” by the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth).

“Starting April 15, 2020 onwards, all Covid-19 admissions will be covered using a new case rate benefit package,” PhilHealth said.

The agency is expected to soon release guidelines for claiming refunds.

The Office of the Vice President (OVP), meanwhile, has appropriated some P14 million for the purchase of locally made COVID-19 test kits.

Vice President Leni Robredo has said they have coordinated with the University of the Philippines’ National Institutes of Health and the Philippine Genome Center for the acquisition of the test kits.

“We have appropriated P14 million for 10,000 test kits,” the Vice President said over the weekend.

“Hopefully, we can acquire them within the week for distribution,” she said, adding that they are coordinating with the Department of Health and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in identifying the laboratories where the test kits would be donated.

The Food and Drug Administration last week said it has approved the use of the test kits.

Robredo noted that the locally developed kits are far cheaper and are expected to be quicker in delivering results compared to foreign counterparts, which cost around P8,000 each.

Health officials said the locally made COVID-19 test kit would cost patients around P1,250.

Robredo said her office and its partners from the private sector have raised more than P46 million since the launch of their fund drive for COVID-19 frontliners last month.

The OVP earlier donated P5.4 million worth of test kits to the RITM, which served as the main testing laboratory for COVID-19.

Robredo also reiterated her support for the planned mass testing in the country starting April 14, saying it has become effective in flattening the COVID-19 curve in other countries such as South Korea. – Helen Flores

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