Private-run labs in Philippines have highest COVID-19 tests done

Private-run labs in Philippines have highest COVID-19 tests done
A health care worker is about to collect a swab sample.
The STAR / Walter Bollozos

MANILA, Philippines — Private-run institutions in the country have topped the number of COVID-19 screenings conducted on more than three million Filipinos, nine months since the onset of the pandemic. 

Philippine Red Cross chairman and Sen. Richard Gordon on Tuesday said they have tested 1,003,754 individuals out of the total 3,687,573 screened in the country, per latest figures from the health department. 

During the early stages of the public health crisis, the Philippines had to send samples to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory in Melbourne, Australia which took time for the results to return. 

There are now at least 140 RT-PCR and GeneXpert laboratories combined that have received accreditation from government.

Detoxicare, a pharmaceutical company, followed with 331,000 persons screened, according to Gordon, with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine at third with 292,000 tested.

Red Cross currently has 10 molecular laboratories across the country. The senator said expansions are being eyed such as in Laguna, Albay, Pangasinan, Isabela and Iloilo to name a few. 

Gordon at a Laging Handa briefing said they will also try to bring down the cost of tests to around P2,000 to P2,500, compared to at least P4,000 to P10,000 in private hospitals. 

"We're still completing requirements," he said in English. "When we finally obtain the permit from DOH for saliva test the cost will probably go down as it is already in the expert panel approval."

The Philippines has a total of 324,762 virus infections as of Monday, October 5, with active cases at 45,799. 

Recoveries have also reached 273,123, while the death toll has hit 5,840. 

Manila has the highest number of cases in Southeast Asia, surpassing Jakarta's 307,120, and also recently landed among the Top 20 countries in the world in terms of infections.  Christian Deiparine

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