Price cap on COVID testing may be released this week, Palace says
A health worker conducts a swab test in Baguio City. There are almost 2,000 laboratories accredited to conduct PCR tests nationwide, with varying prices for the procedure.
Andy Zapata Jr.

Price cap on COVID testing may be released this week, Palace says

Alexis Romero (Philstar.com) - November 23, 2020 - 4:08pm

MANILA, Philippines — The price cap on COVID-19 testing — one of the measures meant to ensure access to affordable health services during the pandemic — may be released this week, Malacañang said Monday.

"That will be decided upon by the DOH (Department of Health) and DTI (Department of Trade and Industry). If I'm not mistaken, maybe this week, the price cap will be released," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said at a virtual press briefing.

Earlier this month, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 118 directing agencies to ensure that COVID-19 tests and test kits are accessible and affordable.

The DOH, in coordination with the DTI, was directed to determine, formulate, and implement a price range for COVID-19 testing conducted by hospitals, laboratories, and other health establishments and facilities including the test kits used in the conduct of the tests.

READ: Red Cross resumes coronavirus tests sans full PhilHealth debt payment

The price range will form part of the standards and requirements for the licensing and accreditation of hospitals, laboratories, and other health establishments and facilities as COVID-19 testing centers.

The DOH and DTI have also been directed to monitor and review the prices and market supply of COVID-19 test kits and other medical items and supplies.

In a recent press briefing, Roque said the price of COVID-19 tests could be lowered, noting that Project Ark, a COVID-19 testing initiative launched by the private sector, offers antibody rapid tests that only cost P1,500 to P2,000. 

The Philippine Red Cross, which offers RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) testing, prices the swab tests at P4,000 per test. RT-PCR tests are considered the most accurate, with the World Health Organization warning against the use of antibody tests for diagnosis.

Enhancing testing is one of the government's strategies to contain COVID-19, which has so far infected more than 418,000 persons in the Philippines. 

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