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.