Philippines eyes 30,000 daily COVID-19 tests by end of May

Robie de Guzman   •   May 12, 2020   •   552

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) is eyeing to achieve 30,000 daily tests for novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by the end of the month as it works to ramp up the country’s testing capacity.

The DOH set the target after it finally attained its first target to conduct 8,000 COVID-19 tests in a day.

On Sunday, May 10, the agency reported it has conducted 8,637 tests in one day. This is, however, 10 days past its target date of April 30.

According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, the tests were done on 158,176 unique individuals.

She explained that one of the causes of the delay was the slow processing of samples after the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) had to scale down its operations in April when over 40 of its medical staff contracted COVID-19.

The RITM has since returned to normal operations after most of its personnel recovered from the disease.

So far, the Philippines has 26 accredited laboratories capable of detecting the strain of coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19.

Vergeire said they are eyeing to open additional testing facilities to reach its target of 30,000 daily tests.

This way, the country will be able to improve efforts on contact tracing, isolation and treatment of COVID-19 patients to effectively curb the spread of the disease.

“Hindi pa po tapos ang laban ng World War C (COVID-19) sa bawa’t bagong impormasyon bawa’t bagong teknolohiyang nadidiskubre upang malabanan ang COVID-19 tayo’y dapat maging manatiling alerto dahil ang bawa’t bagay na nagagawa natin ay mayron buhay na mailigtas,” Vergeire said.

To date, the Philippines has recorded 11,086 confirmed coronavirus infections, with 726 deaths and 1,999 recovered patients. – RRD (with details from Correspondent Aiko Miguel)

DOH orders public hospital to increase bed capacity for COVID-19 patients

Marje Pelayo   •   July 22, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — One after the other, major hospitals in Metro Manila last week declared full capacity of its designated beds for COVID-19 patients.

According to their respective statements, the hospitals fear that operations would collapse with the daily surge of COVID-19 patients.

Thus, the Department of Health (DOH) has required all public hospitals to increase their bed capacity to accommodate more COVID-19 patients.

“ [For] public hospitals, we require them to allocate 30 percent of their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients,” said Heath Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

Kapag nag-surge ang cases, 50 percent [dapat], at ‘pag kailangan pa, dapat 70 percent of their bed capacity should be allocated for COVID-19 patients, [When cases surge, hospitals’ bed capacity for COVID-19 patients should be 50 percent and if necessary, 70 percent),” she added.

Private hospitals, meanwhile, are required to initially allot 20 percent of their bed capacity for COVID-19 patients and if necessary, expand further to 30 percent bed capacity as dictated by the “One Hospital Command” launched by the DOH.

Under the program, an incident command system network between hospitals will be established to coordinate transfers in case one hospital can no longer accommodate incoming COVID-19 patients.

“That is our answer to this problem, the One Hospital Command. Kasi kung di magtutulong tulong bawat mga ospital both public and private in a specific locality, we will not be able to have this proper referral system,” Vergeire expalined.

Gaya ng puno na ICU ng hospital, kapag di nya maaccept ang isang pasyente, meron silang incident command system, kung saan ibabato lang nila ang pasyente, enroll the details and ang system ang maghahanap kung saan pwedeng dalin among all of the hospitals in NCR,” she added.

The official noted that due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases, government hospitals like Lung Center of the Philippines, Philippine Children’s Medical Center, Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital, Heart Center and other hospitals for specific specialization also have been accepting COVID-19 patients in response to the demand after major hospitals declared full bed capacity. MNP (with reports from Aiko Miguel)

China’s Wuhan kicks off mass testing campaign amid rising cases

UNTV News   •   May 14, 2020

Authorities in the Chinese city where the novel coronavirus emerged launched an ambitious campaign on Wednesday (May 13) to test all of its 11 million residents, after a cluster of new cases raised fears of a second wave of infections.

At least two of the city’s main districts have delivered notices of the campaign door-to-door and sent out online questionnaires through community workers seeking information about tests people have had, and if they belong to what are deemed high-risk groups, residents said.

State broadcaster CCTV showed footage of hundreds of residents queuing up for pre-screening and testing at Renmin Hospital of Wuhan University on Wednesday.

Wuhan was placed under a lockdown on Jan. 23 and it was only lifted on April 8. It reported six new cases over the weekend, the first infections since the curbs were removed.

The Wuhan government earlier said the city had 53 laboratories to process tests, and 211 locations where nucleic acid tests can be done. (Reuters)

(Production: Fang Nanlin)

DOH hits 8,000 daily COVID-19 tests target for April

Aileen Cerrudo   •   May 13, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has reached its target of 8,000 COVID-19 tests per day for the month of April.

The Health Department reports that 158,176 unique individuals have already been tested for COVID-19. However, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said this is still far from the 28,000 tests daily that they are targeting to achieve by the end of May.

Duque calls on local government units (LGUs) to increase their mass testing capabilities.

“Once we are able to do that, it will help us detect [cases] early and because we were able to detect early, we can manage cases of COVID-19 more quickly,” he said.

However, the DOH Secretary reiterates they cannot hastily approve accreditation for testing laboratories even though they have been receiving a lot of applications.

Duque said they have strict guidelines when it comes to proficiency tests to ensure the accuracy of the results in accredited laboratories.

“Halimbawa ang laboratory na hindi makapasa, alangan naman sabihin ko sa inyo na ‘Ipapasa ko iyan dahil nagmamadali tayo’. Hindi naman iyon pwede, (For example, a laboratory did not pass [the standards], I cannot just say ‘I will pass this for accreditation because we are in a hurry’. That cannot be) in other words, there are cases beyond the DOH’s control,” he said.

The country has 26 accredited laboratories for COVID-19 testing. The DOH reported three laboratories are on stage 4 of the accreditation process while 30 laboratories are on stage 3.

As of May 12 at 4:00 p.m., the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 11,350 with 2,106 recoveries, and 751 deaths. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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