The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) could test 1.6 million people or 13 percent of Metro Manila’s 13 million residents for COVID-19 once it further increases its testing capacity, said PRC chairman Senator Richard Gordon, Monday.
“That’s the target for 1.6 million Filipinos. The goal—at 20,000 per day—is about 83 days,” Gordon said in a virtual interview hosted by the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines.
“What we’re gonna do also here in the Red Cross is put in more machines in the other laboratories in Manila that are already functioning and put another eight machines as well as four extraction kits. Then we can start hitting that required number,” he added.
Gordon also said PRC’s current testing capacity is at around 12,000 daily.
The senator also said if the government would supplement the organization’s capacity, the testing period could be shortened further.
Gordon added that other Red Cross testing laboratories are scheduled to open Subic, Clark, Batangas, and Laguna. The said facilities could also run samples from Metro Manila if needed.
He also said he would recommend to the Department of the Interior and Local Government to set quotas or minimum testing required per city to achieve the ideal testing capacity in NCR.
“Dapat nating gawin, pasukin natin ang mga barangay na mayroong COVID. Doon tayo mag-test kaagad. Ika nga, drain that swamp,” Gordon added.
(We should enter a barangay that has COVID. We should immediately conduct testing there. As the saying goes, drain that swamp.)
Malacañang, on Monday, announced the government already reached its goal of conducting 30,000 COVID-19 tests daily. DOH data, however, showed only an average of 8,000 tests is done in recent days.
Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, nevertheless, clarified that this does not necessarily translate to the actual COVID-19 tests done daily.
“This is just an estimate, based on the number of machines, number of HR, and the operating hours per laboratory. This also does not include yet the factors that may affect the operations of each laboratory,” Vergeire said.
“Our actual numbers are being reported daily through our sitreps and other materials. The 32,000 is the estimated capacity sans all other factors that may affect operations of laboratories,” she added.