Government confident of eliminating testing backlog 'in two weeks'
A resident of Brgy. San Miguel in Taguig City undergoes swabbing for coronavirus testing on April 23, 2020.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos

Government confident of eliminating testing backlog 'in two weeks'

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - May 14, 2020 - 6:30pm

MANILA, Philippines — The government is optimistic that it will be able to address the backlog on coronavirus testing in two weeks as it expects the country's testing capacity to increase with the help of the private sector.

Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the national policy on coronavirus disease, said there is a backlog of about 7,000 tests nationwide, an issue that has to be addressed so the government can determine the number of people infected by the virus.

"We have a lot of catching up to do especially now that our backlog has reached 7,000 tests nationwide," Dizon said at a press briefing Thursday. 

"We have found a solution and we are confident that with the help of our private partners, within two weeks, we can remove the backlog and we will continue to increase the tests (conducted) per day and our capacity," he added.

Dizon said the actual tests conducted per day have risen by 74% to about 8,700 on May 10 from about 5,000 on May 2.

He said the increasing number of laboratories has also raised the country's testing capacity to 14,500 a day on May 10 from 8,500 on May 2.

There are 30 laboratories conducting coronavirus tests. The 14,500 testing capacity, however, is still less than half of the 30,000 per day goal set by the government.

"Our capacity is improving and we are seeing huge increases (in testing capacity) but we are not yet contented," Dizon said.

"There are many challenges involved in testing. It's a very complicated process. A lot of things have to be done from buying supplies from abroad, setting up testing labs, equipment, and it requires the skills of the (medical technologists). It is really complicated and one of its indications is the huge backlog," he added.

Dizon said the Philippines needs to reach the 30,000-test-per-day goal to be at par with South Korea and European countries considered as the benchmarks in testing.

He said Mindanao, which is a contiguous area, and Visayas are the priorities in the setting up of laboratories.

The government, Dizon said is continuously conducting swabbing activities. About 10,000 overseas Filipino workers have been swabbed from May 7 to 12 in various swabbing centers nationwide.

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