MANILA – The government is now targeting meeting the standard processing time of 24 to 48 hours in releasing the results of tests of persons suspected to be infected with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire issued the statement, as she admitted that it takes five to seven days for Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to release the Covid-19 test results due to “backlog.”
Vergeire said RITM already made a commitment to address the backlog in “two to three days.”
“Pagkatapos po noon, magkakaroon tayo ng real-time results already na sinasabi nating 24 to 48 hours (After that, we can now have real-time results. We can get the results by 24 to 48 hours),” she said in a televised “Laging Handa” briefing.
There are now 707 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, with 45 deaths and 28 recoveries.
To improve the testing capacity in the country, Vergeire said subnational laboratories are expected to receive some 5,000 test kits each either by Friday or Saturday.
Subnational laboratories that will get new test kits from DOH include Southern Philippine Medical Center in Davao City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu, San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, and the Lung Center of the Philippines, Vergeire said.
Vergeire said subnational laboratories also vowed to process the results of tests for Covid-19 by 24 to 48 hours.
She added that around 30 laboratories have signified interest to conduct the test for Covid-19.
“Isa-isa ho nating ia-assess iyan para lumawak pa ho ang mga laboratoryong maaaring gumawa ng test na ito sa ating bansa (We are assessing that so we can have more laboratories that can conduct Covid-19 tests in our country),” Vergeire said.
Check rapid test kits
Presidential Adviser for Entrepreneurship Joey Concepcion stressed the need to improve access to testing to allay public fear amid the Covid-19 pandemic in the country.
Concepcion said the use of rapid test kits for Covid-19 should be assessed by the DOH and the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“There are these rapid test kits that are out there and available. The issue here is that DOH and FDA do not agree with it,” he said during the “Laging Handa” briefing.
“Sometimes, in warfare, you have to use what we have now. If the test kits are already running, then there’s no need for this type of rapid test kits. I hope that the DOH and the FDA will test these test kits.”
The DOH earlier thumbed down the use of rapid Covid-19 test kits, as it questioned the accuracy of the test results.
Vergeire said the DOH and FDA have to be careful in approving the use of test kits for Covid-19 to ensure that the results of tests are “accurate.”
“Ang problema po kapag hindi po registered iyan ng Food and Drug Administration, hindi po iyan dumaan sa masusing pag-aaral, maari pong magbigay iyan sa atin ng false negative or false positive results (The problem is if it’s not registered by the Food and Drug Administration, it can give false negative or false positive results),” she warned.
The FDA has so far approved 15 Covid-19 test kits for commercial use. (PNA)