Covid-19 mass testing to start Tuesday: DOH exec

Covid-19 mass testing to start Tuesday: DOH exec

The mass testing for patients suspected of having coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) will start on Tuesday.

At the Laging Handa public briefing Monday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterated that priorities for testing include cases of those seriously ill and essential front-line personnel, among others.

“Gusto po natin linawin hindi po ito iyong lahat ng tao ay ite-test, hindi rin po ito indiscriminate testing, ite-test po natin iyong mga kasama sa qualifiers na sinasabi, so priority pa rin po natin iyong mga severe ang cases, iyong mga vulnerable population, ‘yung mga nakatatanda, ‘yung mga may ibang sakit, may mga co-morbidities at iyong mga buntis. Kasama rin po ite-test ang ating mga health care workers lalo na kung sila ay may sintomas (We want to clarify that not everybody will be tested, this is also not indiscriminate testing, we’ll test those included in the qualifiers, so we’ll prioritize the severe cases, the vulnerable population, the elderly, the sick, those with co-morbidites and the pregnant. Health care workers, especially if they have symptoms, are included),” Vergeire said.

On April 4, the health department said there would be an expanded testing to get a fuller assessment of the public health situation as the number of confirmed Covid-19 cases in the country was expected to increase.

There are 10 laboratories now accredited and capable of testing patients of Covid-19 nationwide.

These include the Medical City in Pasig City; St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City; Bicol Public Health Laboratory in Legazpi City, Albay, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City; Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Benguet; San Lazaro Hospital in Manila City; Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City; Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City; University of the Philippines’ National Institutes of Health in Manila; and Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City.

Prior to their accreditation, only the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine served as the confirmatory testing laboratory for Covid-19.

“Sabi po natin ang expanded testing ay progressive kapag dumating na tayo sa kakayanan ng ating gobyerno, laboratory-capacity wise, na nakakagawa na po tayo ng walong libong test kits per day, isasama na po natin lahat ng may exposure, history of travel na may sintomas (We said the expanded testing is progressive when we reach the time that our government, laboratory-wise capacity, that we can produce 8,000 test kits per day, we’ll include those with exposure, those with travel history and symptoms),” Vergeire said.

Vergeire urged the public to continue the practice of physical and social distancing and frequent washing of hands which have been proven effective in curbing the transmission of Covid-19 in other countries.

She said it would take about six to 12 months or a year and a half before any “deployable” vaccine is developed. (PNA)

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