PH surpasses 30,000 target daily COVID-19 testing capacity – Roque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, May 25) — The government has surpassed its goal of potentially conducting 30,000 coronavirus tests daily by May 31, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said on Monday.

In a regular press briefing, he noted that the country was able to increase its capacity to 32,100 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests per day on May 20, six times more than the level on April 15.

"Naabot na po natin ang ating target na 30,000 PCR tests per day... Noong Mayo 20 po ay nakaabot na po tayo sa 32,100 tests per day. Nalampasan po natin ang ating target. Anim na beses po ang inilaki ng ating testing capacity — PCR — mula 5,000 noong April 15 sa loob lamang ng isang buwan," he announced.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday confirmed the country's estimated testing capacity is at 32,000 tests daily for 42 laboratories, but that the actual testing capacity is 8,500 to 9,500 a day.

She clarified that Roque's pronouncement is the "estimated maximum capacity" of all accredited laboratories in the country based on the number of available machines, the number of staff, and the operating hours per laboratory. Vergeire said this number discounts external factors such as availability of laboratory supplies and infrastructure and equipment issues.

"It's the testing capacity based on existing resources. What we use is the estimated capacity and the actual capacity of labs," she said in a message to reporters.

Roque credited the government’s Test, Trace, Treat or T3 program linking the government and the private sector for the increase in the testing capacity. He said the government is working to improve the efficiency of the testing laboratories to maximize capability.

Coronavirus testing czar Vince Dizon previously said the national government wanted to step up its daily capacity for COVID-19 tests to 50,000.

CNN Philippines correspondent Carolyn Bonquin contributed to this report.