PH COVID-19 tests seen to exceed 1 million by end-July, says Dizon

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, July 13) — COVID-19 Response Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon said total number of tests in the country is seen to breach one million by the end of July.

Data from the Department of Health show that 978,884 tests were already conducted as of July 12.

“Our target is to hit 10 million tests by next year. But we are confident we can double the one million tests by early September or end of August,” Dizon told CNN Philippines’ The Final Word.

He added that testing now is not only limited to those who exhibit symptoms, but has expanded to those who had contact with COVID-19 patients.

In a statement, the testing czar explained that from 500 tests in March, the country is now conducting 23,000 tests as of July 9, and is about to reach 32,000 tests daily by end-July.

He said this is due to the faster accreditation process of testing laboratories across the country. Currently, there are 85 accredited facilities nationwide.

This week, the Department of Health will also release guidelines on testing non-medical frontliners like those working in the private sector, which is seen to further increase the country’s testing capacity, Dizon said. Discussions are ongoing to have PhilHealth share the costs of the testing, he added.

Meanwhile, National Task Force against COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez said the National Action Plan Phase II, which covers June to September 2020, “will center on saving lives and mitigating the impact as one, towards economic and social recovery.”

He said under this, the economy will gradually be reopened on the condition that companies will ensure health safety of their employees by following minimum health standards.

Guided by the government’s “Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate” strategy, localized lockdowns will also be implemented, Galvez said. Stricter quarantine rules will be in place based on data coming from local government units.