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Enough COVID-19 test kits – DOH

Sheila Crisostomo - The Philippine Star
Enough COVID-19 test kits â DOH
A box of antigen test kits is on display during a turnover ceremony at the Ynares Sports Arena in Pasig yesterday. The Pitmaster Foundation Inc. donated P50 million worth of antigen test kits and P50 million in financial assistance for Metro Manila’s COVID-19 response during the ceremony.
Russell Palma

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) assured the public yesterday that the country’s supply of COVID-19 test kits is enough even as the surge in cases raised the demand nationwide.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there is “no shortage of testing kits nor reagents for laboratories doing RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests in the country.”

She said there was only a sudden rise in the demand for laboratory services, and this resulted in “backlog or delays in the release of test results and difficulty in accessing testing.”

“There is no shortage. We have enough supply of testing kits in government. We continuously provide laboratories with testing kits,” she noted at a press briefing.

Vergeire added that the government is reviewing the existing price caps for testing methods in the hope of further bringing down costs.

“Now, the price of antigen tests is also being studied. Maybe in the coming weeks we can come up with new price caps,” she said.

Based on Department Circular 0374 issued on Sept. 6, 2021, the price cap is set at P2,800 for the plate-based RT-PCR test and P2,450 for the GenExpert (cartridge -based) for public facilities.

For private facilities, the price limit is P3,360 for the plate-based test and P2,940 for the GenExpert (cartridge based) with a computed “20 percent allowable markup.”

For home service, the price cap is additional P1,000 for plate based and GenExpert (cartridge-based).

Palace wants more testing labs

Malacañang wants agencies to increase the number of accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories to prevent delays in the release of test results of those who are staying in quarantine sites.

Some returning Filipinos who are under quarantine have complained about having to pay costly hotel bills because of the delayed release of their COVID-19 test results.

Recently, the DOH said that the release of test results takes longer because of higher demand and the reduced capacity of laboratories manned by health care workers who got sick.

“We continue to nudge and prompt the BOQ (Bureau of Quarantine) and the DOTr (Department of Transportation) to increase the accredited swab labs or RT-PCR labs. If there are more RT-PCR labs, then there would be more options and the release of the results would be faster,” acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles told One PH yesterday.

“Every time there is an IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) meeting, we consistently remind the DOTr and the BOQ to consistently and constantly increase the number of laboratories accredited so that our passengers will have more options,” added Nograles, who co-chairs the IATF.

At a recent IATF meeting, the DOH reported that there are 312 laboratories conducting RT-PCR tests nationwide. – Alexis Romero

COVID-19 TESTING

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