Philippines to start Coronavirus mass Testing on April 14

On April 2nd, 2020, Philippine National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said that the government expects to start mass testing on April 14. The Philippine Research Institute on Tropical Medicine has accredited a number of hospitals to conduct testing for COVID-19. 

Philippines Coronavirus Testing on April 14

According to Galvez, the government is “determined to fast-track the accreditation of substantial laboratories so we can start with the mass testing of the PUIs and PUMs”. A PUI is a Person Under Investigation while a PUM is a Person Under Monitoring. Both PUIs and PUMs have either a history of travel to countries with local transmission of the virus or a history of exposure to a confirmed case. However, PUIs exhibit symptoms of respiratory illness and/or fever. Galvez believes that data on the Philippines’ number of confirmed coronavirus cases shows an improvement. 

On April 2nd, 2020, the country reported 322 new cases, which is significantly lower than the 538 they reported on March 31. He said that “this is a good sign that we are gaining the battle despite the many tests that we have right now". He expects that more and more patients will recover from COVID-19 in the next few weeks as over 500 of them are now confined in the Philippines’ “best hospitals”.

According to the Philippine Star, the Department of Health had previously said the Philippines could not conduct mass testing due to limited test kits and lab capacity. Many have been calling for free, mandatory mass testing across the nation in order to curb the spread of the disease. One of the hospitals that recently received accreditation from the Department of Health to conduct COVID-19 tests is the Western Visayas Medical Center.

More than 40 healthcare labs and facilities are reportedly in line for accreditation from the department. GMA News reports that, as of March 30, the Philippines had conducted 15,337 tests, including retests and validation, for COVID-19, Aside from accrediting institutions for testing, the government has also been working on acquiring and distributing medical supplies and equipment to Frontliners, Galvez said that a number of COVID-19 referral facilities received 15,000 sets of personal protective equipment on March 31st, 2020. These facilities included the San Lazaro Hospital, Lung Center of the Philippines, and Philippine General Hospital.

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