MANILA – The government is moving a step closer to reaching its target of conducting 3,000 diagnostic tests for the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) per day.
In a virtual presser on Monday, Cabinet Secretary and Inter-Agency Task Force for Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) spokesperson Karlo Nograles said there are now 15 testing centers in the country.
Aside from the 15 testing centers, he said there are additional 28 institutions undergoing laboratory certification process, while 37 more have expressed their intention to be certified as testing centers.
“Because of these developments, the DOH says that we are now in a better position to reach our target of 3,000 tests per day,” he said.
He said there are also new testing centers in St. Luke’s Quezon City and Bonifacio Global City, V. Luna Hospital in Quezon City, Medical City in Pasig, the Makati Medical Center, and the Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory in Mandaluyong City.
Nograles said the government hopes to double the testing target until it is capable of conducting 8,000 tests per day before the end of the month.
Targeted mass testing is expected to begin on Tuesday (April 14), he added.
He said those who will be prioritized for mass testing include hospitalized patients and health workers with severe symptoms of Covid-19, particularly the elderly, pregnant, and those with pre-existing conditions, followed by those with mild symptoms with a history of exposure, and those asymptomatic but with history of exposure.
He said a total of 33,814 individuals have been tested for Covid-19 as of Sunday (April 11).
The number is expected to increase after targeted mass testing kicks off, he added.
More patient care centers
As the government ramps up its testing capacity, Nograles said the next concern is ensuring that there is an adequate number of patient care centers and beds all around the country.
Citing Presidential Peace adviser and Chief Implementer of the National Policy against Covid-19 Carlito Galvez Jr., Nograles said there are now 2,673 patient care centers in the country for suspected and probable Covid-19 cases, with a total bed capacity of 165,756.
“These numbers will grow in the days and weeks to come as more and more of the identified quarantine facilities become operational,” he said.
He said one of the patient care centers, the Rizal Memorial Stadium Complex, is expected to be completed on Monday.
More personal protective equipment (PPE) sets have also been distributed to the different hospitals in Metro Manila and the country, he said.
A total of 60,060 PPE sets have already been distributed as of April 10, he added.
Nograles reiterated that the government is exhausting all efforts to reduce the number of cases of deaths of people infected with Covid-19.
Meanwhile, Nograles said a proposed “selective” quarantine in Luzon is “probable” but too early to say.
Last Sunday, Galvez said the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine may be relaxed into a selective quarantine once the government sees a decrease in the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths.
Nograles stressed the importance of showing “with accuracy” how existing mechanisms operate and how it would benefit the country’s health, our safety, security, our economic and social dimensions.
“When Secretary Galvez said that, that is a probable, pero is it final? Not yet because ultimately we have to come up with a game plan [for] what happens after April 30 and ultimately, kailangan din po natin ang approval din ni Pangulong Duterte (we also need the approval of President Duterte),” he said.
Nograles, however, said there are other high-ranking officials contributing to the decision on the matter.
“The IATF is not just Secretary Galvez and myself, there are plenty other Cabinet Secretaries in the IATF and other high-ranking officials all discussing the probable,” he said.
He said the government is currently exhausting all efforts to ensure that government resources last.
“Ang management po natin na ginagawa ngayon is (The management we are doing now is) to enable us to flatten the curve para po we do not overwhelm the healthcare facilities natin, our doctors, our frontliners, our hospital beds, our ventilators,” he said.
He also expressed hope that a vaccine against Covid-19 would soon be developed.
As of Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported a total of 4,932 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 315 deaths, and 242 recoveries. (PNA)