PH gov’t to increase COVID-19 testing up to 90K a day – Dizon

Robie de Guzman   •   March 30, 2021   •   378

MANILA, Philippines – The government is looking to ramp up the number of COVID-19 tests in Metro Manila and nearby provinces especially amid the enforcement of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), testing czar Vince Dizon said Tuesday.

“Sinabi na po ni IATF chairperson na si (Health) Secretary Francisco Duque na mag-ramp up tayo ng ating testing and detection dito sa NCR (National Capital Region), Bulacan, Cavite, and Rizal lalong-lalo na ngayong panahon ng ECQ,” Dizon said during a Palace online briefing.

Dizon said they are eyeing to increase the COVID-19 tests up to 90,000 per day.

To achieve this, the testing czar said the government will be using antigen test kits validated by the World Health Organization, through its emergency use listing, and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) along with the RT-PCR test.

He said antigen tests will be used in areas with high number of COVID-19 cases such as Metro Manila and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal – collectively tagged as the ‘NCR Plus’ bubble.

Dizon said the use of antigen test kits will help the government in immediately identifying those infected with coronavirus as it can yield faster results.

The test kits will also be used in hospitals to test suspected patients and healthcare workers.

“Ito rin po ang gagamitin ng mga mayor para magtest sa mga lugar, lalo na sa mga barangay na mataas ang kaso,” he added.

Currently, the country conducts more than 51,000 RT-PCR tests a day.

Dizon said the government will procure additional 30,000 antigen test kits along with the RT-PCR tests to achieve the targeted 90,000 tests per day. He, however, noted that these kits will only be limited to the NCR Plus area.

The testing czar further stated that the 500,000 antigen test kits, as announced earlier by the Malacañang, are still being procured by the Office of the Civil Defense (OCD).

The OCD is only allowed to purchase the antigen kits brands Panbio COVID-19 Ag rapid test kit, SD Biosensor test kit, and Lansion test kit.

“Ang target po natin ay mag-procure ang OCD ng 500,000 antigen test kits para mai-deploy sa mga communities at iba’t ibang ospital sa ECQ area,” he said.

Dizon also reported that the country so far has 239 testing laboratories all over the country.

PH eyes COVID-19 testing for inbound travelers on 7th or 8th day

Robie de Guzman   •   May 5, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is looking to require incoming travelers to be tested for COVID-19 within seven or eight days after their arrival in the country.

In an online briefing on Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they will recommend this policy based on evidence that showed that the viral load is still high on the seventh or eighth day.

“Ipinakita ito nina Dr. Edsel (Salvaña) at iba pang technical advisory group members, based on evidence that on the 7th and the 8th day, nandoon yung pinakamataas na porsiyento that a person who might have the disease might turn positive,” Vergeire said.

Under current guidelines, inbound passengers are subjected to COVID-19 testing on the fifth or sixth day of their quarantine unless they manifest symptoms at an earlier point.

Vergeire said the recommendation aims to accurately identify and isolate all travelers infected with the disease, and break the chain of transmission.

“Although hindi natin dini-discount yung fact na maaaring meron na on the first, second, third, fourth, fifth pero pinakamataas po because the viral load is high is on the 7th and 8th day,” she said.

“And for us to be able to have accurate test results at ma-isolate natin agad ang may sakit ay ito po ang inirerekomenda natin ngayon,” she added.

Vergeire said the proposal has yet to be approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases.

The Philippine government has imposed a ban on travelers from India, including Filipinos, until May 14 to prevent the entry of a coronavirus variant believed to be contributing to the surge in COVID-19 infections in India.

PAL warns passengers vs. traveling with fake COVID-19 test results

Robie de Guzman   •   April 12, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Flag carrier Philippine Airlines (PAL) has reminded passengers to secure authentic COVID-19 test results from legitimate medical providers, warning that using fraudulent ones may land them in jail.

PAL issued the reminder after it prevented the boarding of at least 15 individuals who presented fake COVID-19 test results at airport check-in counters.

In a statement, PAL said the passengers caught with falsified test results in Manila were bound for Cotabato, Dipolog, and Zamboanga.

They have been turned over to the Philippine National Police (PNP), the airline company said.

Most of the apprehended passengers were referred for an inquest at the city prosecutor’s office, while others have been isolated at quarantine facilities pending their real swab test results.

“The police said they will be charged with falsification of public documents and violation of RA 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act,” the airline said.

“If found guilty, they may each face penalties of up to ₱50,000 or imprisonment for one to six months,” it added.

RT-PCR or antigen COVID-19 test results are required for travel to ensure that no virus transmission will occur in flights and in their destinations.

“Safe travel is always the paramount concern, and airlines and authorities are vigilant in not accepting travelers holding fake RT-PCR or Antigen test results, for everybody’s protection,” PAL said.

PNP Aviation Security Group nabs 15 persons with fake COVID-19 test results

Robie de Guzman   •   April 7, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Wednesday warned the public against the use of fake coronavirus disease (COVID-19) test results and other health documents for travel as this may land them in jail.

 

PNP chief General Debold Sinas issued the warning after the PNP Aviation Security Group intercepted 15 individuals at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) for using fake reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test results.

 

Sinas said the apprehended persons traveling from Metro Manila, which is under enhanced community quarantine until April 11, were bound for Davao and Zamboanga City.

 

“The arrested individuals will be charged with falsification of public documents and violation of RA 11332, an Act providing policies and prescribing procedures on surveillance and response to notifiable diseases, epidemics, and health events of public health concern,” Sinas said in a statement.

 

Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act provides stiff penalties ranging from fines up to P50,000 and imprisonment of not less than one month but not more than six months for forgery of RT-PCR test results.

 

The law also states that “tampering of records relating to notifiable diseases or health events of public health concern, which includes official medical test results or medical certificates, or such other documents and records issued by public health authorities” is punishable by law.

 

“Let me reiterate to the public that using fake laboratory results poses a danger to everyone. Our frontliners are risking their lives to save yours, a little bit of concern and cooperation is what we need to fight this unseen enemy,” Sinas said.

 

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