MANILA — Two Cabinet officials assured the public on Sunday that the government has enough funds for the production of testing kits to detect coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo and Technology Secretary Fortunato dela Peña gave the assurance to belie “false narratives” circulating on social media that the government has insufficient funds to address the Covid-19 outbreak in the country.
In a joint press statement, Panelo and dela Peña slammed the spread of fake news that merely creates apprehension and panic among the public.
“We wish to assure our countrymen that the Office of the President is providing the needed funds of the DOH (Department of Health), DOST (Department of Science and Technology) and UP (University of the Philippines) Manila’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the production of the diagnostic kits for the Covid-19 tests,” they said.
The Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corporation earlier vowed to give PHP2 billion for the purchase of additional test kits.
The Philippines currently has 4,500 test kits and expects 2,500 more from the World Health Organization.
Panelo and dela Peña ensured that the government is ready to “use to the fullest” its resources to contain the spread of Covid-19 and secure public health and safety.
The two also denied that the DOST is calling for donations regarding access to test kits, stressing that “sufficient funds are available.”
“For those in the private sector who wish to donate funds, we suggest they coordinate either with the DOH, PGH (Philippine General Hospital), DSWD (Department of Social Welfare and Development) or the LGUs (local government units) to ensure its rightful receipt and best use,” they said.
Around 111 people in the Philippines have already been infected with Covid-19.
Amid the rising number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the country, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has allowed the use of detection kits that was developed by UP-NIH for Covid-19 testing.
UP President Danilo Concepcion on Friday said around 6,000 Covid-19 test kits developed by UP scientists are now in stock.
The detection kit, being manufactured and stockpiled by Manila HealthTek Inc., will cost around PHP1,320 per test, less expensive than the foreign kit which costs around PHP8,500 per test.
Panelo and dela Peña said Manila Healthtek is prepared to do the production of bigger quantities required to respond to the present crisis, in addition to its present inventory once the imported raw materials arrive.
“We appeal to everyone to observe strictly the protocols espoused by the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) on personal hygiene and social distancing that we may protect each other from being potential carrier and transmitter of Covid-19,” they said. (PNA)