DOH eyes 8,000 COVID-19 tests per day by end of April

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As more laboratories and testing kits get approval, the Department of Health said it is expecting to significantly improve COVID-19 testing capacity by month’s end. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 3) — As more laboratories and testing kits get approval, the Department of Health said it is expecting to significantly improve COVID-19 testing capacity by month’s end.

The DOH said Friday, it is eyeing laboratories in the country to collectively conduct 8,000 tests per day by end of April.

"We are very fervent in our commitment to make sure that happens,” said Dr. Beverly Ho, special assistant to Health Secretary Francisco Duque.

There are currently eight laboratories in the country that can conduct tests to confirm if a patient has coronavirus disease. The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa has an average processing time of 48 to 72 hours for samples and can do 1,000 tests daily.

Meanwhile the subnational laboratories, namely, the San Lazaro Hospital, University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health, Lung Center of the Philippines, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Western Visayas Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center Cebu and Southern Philippines Medical Center — can altogether process 500 tests daily, Ho said.

DOH said these tests will increase to 2,000 in the coming days and to 3,000 by April 14.

Patuloy ito itataas dahil may mga tina-train na bagong medtech para dumami ang shifts sa ating mga subnational laboratories,” added Ho.

[Translation: These will continue to increase because we are also training new medical technicians so we can add more shifts to our subnational laboratories.]

The testing kits developed by scientists from the University of the Philippines are also up for marketing approval upon submission of further requirements to the Food and Drug Administration, she added.

Kapag ito ay naaprubahan, ito po ay karagdagang dagdag sa number of tests,” said Ho.

[Translation: Once these have been approved, they will add to the number of tests we can conduct]

As of Friday, laboratories have tested 16,368 individuals.

The laboratories currently test patients with severe symptoms and those from the vulnerable population like the elderly and pregnant, who have mild symptoms. They test through taking specimens from the nose and back of the throat using swabs.

CNN Philippines correspondent Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.