DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday the actual COVID-19 testing capacity of the country is only 8,000 to 9,000 per day due to operational issues brought by the damages of typhoon Ambo and laboratory supplies shortage.
Vergeire clarified the issue since the IATF set a target of conducting 30,000 COVID-19 tests every day by the end of May, which is far from the actual 8,000 to 9,000 tests per day.
“We already reached our maximum capacity [of conducting 30,000 COVID-19 tests per day] dati pa with the expansion of our laboratories in terms of number of laboratories na nilisensiyahan na natin, but that maximum capacity does not factor in operational issues of the laboratories,” Vergeire said.
“We are averaging 8,000 to 9,000 per day. Bumabangon pa lang tayo because of operational issues encountered in the past katulad nung nasira ang Bicol laboratory at UP NIH (National Institute of Health). Nasira rin iyong exhaust ng Western Visayas laboratory, at ‘yung Lung Center [of the Philippines], noong Monday lang rin sila nakapag-test ulit,” Vergeire added.
(We are averaging 8,000 to 9,000 per day. We are still recovering because of operational issues encountered in the past, like the damaged Bicol laboratory and UP NIH (National Institute of Health). The exhaust of Western Visayas Laboratory and Lung Center was also damaged, they just resumed testing on Monday.)
Low DOH testing capacity due to supplies shortage
Vergerie also cited the shortage of personal protective equipment supplies for accredited laboratories as one of the reasons for low testing capacity.
“Iyong supplies [po ng laboratories], erratic rin po. Kailangan po ma re-distribute from time to time. ‘Yung requirement na lang po na face mask na N95, from 3M po dapat. May mga papasok po sa darating na araw, sa tulong na rin po ng private sector, para po ma-ramp up natin ang ating testing,” Vergeire pointed out.
(The supplies of the laboratories are also erratic. We need to re-distribute from time to time. The N95 requirement should be from 3M. Supplies will come in the next days through the help of the private sector to ramp up our testing.)
“The actual number of tests, which is 8,000 to 9,000, is what we can do for now. Pero meron po tayong maximum capacity na 30,000 per day, sans any obstacles involving operational issues. The limited supply of laboratory supplies is the major limiting factor of our laboratories,” Vergeire added.