Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday the government is inclined in expanded COVID-19 testing rather than mass testing as Malacanang admits the Philippines does not have enough resources to conduct mass testing.
“Ang sinasabi po natin ay expanded testing [what we are saying is expanded testing]. Nung [during the] initial months po, we are testing the vulnerable and severe cases. We have since expanded it to include those with mild symptoms,” Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said in a forum hosted by the Department of Health (DOH).
“Even asymptomatic is being tested now, but only those with exposure [to COVID-19 patients],” she added.
She also explained said that with limited resources, the government’s efforts should be targeted.
“We are trying to veer away from this term of mass testing because when you say mass testing, it is indiscriminate testing, which is not the case [for us],” she said.
“Kailangan tayo mag-focus. Kailangan natin i-test ang mga may exposure [sa COVID-19 patients] at may mga sintomas. Hindi po natin ikinakaila na hindi ganun karami ang ating resources, pero ang protocol po natin ay expanded testing,” Vergeire added.
(We need to focus. We need to test those who have exposure to COVID-19 patients and those with symptoms. We cannot deny that we have limited resources, but our protocol is expanded testing.)
DOH engages in expanded testing, not mass testing in the Philippines
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque insisted the government target to test 1.5 to 2 percent of the Philippines’ almost 100 million population.
Roque clarified his statement earlier that the government has no plans for conducting mass testing yet.
“It’s not accurate [to say] that we do not have a mass testing policy. Let me underscore the following, number one: no country in the world tests every citizen, that’s a fact,” Roque said in an interview over CNN Philippines’ The Source.
“So what we are doing is to follow the best examples we have. Right now, we are trying to follow the footsteps of South Korea, and right now, the goal is to test 1.5 to 2 percent of the total population,” Roque added.
The 1.5 to 2 percent is equivalent to 1,650,000 to 2,200,000 Filipinos needed to be tested, given the country’s population is about 110 million.
However, the government has so far tested 207,823 individuals, which is only 0.19 percent of the total population.
From May 8 to 13, the average of conducted tests was 7,809 tests per day. The government aims to do 30,000 COVID-19 tests daily by the end of May.