A resident of Brgy. San Miguel in Taguig City undergoes swabbing for coronavirus testing on April 23, 2020.
The STAR/Walter Bollozos
Palace says target capacity of 30,000 daily coronavirus tests met
(Philstar.com) - May 25, 2020 - 12:42pm

MANILA, Philippines (Update 4, 2:55 p.m.) — Malacañang claimed the Philippines has met its target of national testing capacity of 30,000 per day but data from the Department of Health showed that the actual number of samples processed daily is still below 10,000.

The presidential spokesperson has since clarified that what he meant was testing capacity and not actual tests performed. 

“Ang original target po ay 30,000 tests per day by May 30 pero nung May 20 nakaabot na tayo sa 32,100 per day. Nalampasan na natin ang ating target,” presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said Monday.

(The original target is 30,000 tests per day by May 30 but on May 20, we have reached 32,100 tests per day. We have surpassed our target.)

The figure is said to be six times higher than the testing capacity on April 15, which stood at 5,000.

“Our first step to increasing the number of daily tests conducted is to expand our testing capacity. This means more accredited laboratories and more automated machine so that we are capable of testing up to 30,000 plus per day,” Roque said in a succeeding statement. 

“The next step is to improve efficiency so that our laboratories are capable of using that capacity to the highest level possible. To achieve this, we need to improve our human resources through proficiency training, especially on the use of automated machine, improve our supply chain management of critical supplies for our labs and improve our data management to verify and release the results faster,” he said. 

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said 32,000 is just an estimate based on the number of machines, human resource and operating hours per laboratory, according to a tweet report of CNN Philippines. The estimate does not account for possible limitations to the number of tests that can actually be done.

DOH: tests from May 21 to 23 below 10,000 daily

Data from the DOH showed that only 8,179 samples were tested on May 20.

From May 21 to 23, total tests conducted did not even reach 10,000: 9,314 tests on May 21, 9,516 tests on May 22 and 8,283 tests on May 23.

From May 21 to 23, total tests conducted did not even reach 10,000: 9,314 tests on May 21, 9,516 tests on May 22 and 8,283 tests on May 23.

To date, 295,593 tests were conducted in the Philippines. The country said it is eyeing to test 1% to 2% of the population, similar with levels in South Korea and Taiwan that have put the coronavirus pandemic under control. 

There are currently 35 accredited testing laboratories across the archipelago. Roque said the government aims to increase the number of laboratories to 66 by the end of May. 

Widespread testing is crucial in the fight of virus-hit countries such as South Korea as it allows authorities to isolate and treat infected people.

The new coronavirus has so far infected 14,035 people in the Philippines, with 868 deaths.  — Gaea Katreena Cabico

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