Philippines seeks to expand coronavirus testing to 10,000 daily

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Health workers man the area for the community-based COVID-19 testing at the Quezon Memorial Circle on April 14, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA – The Philippines aims to run 10,000 tests per day against the novel coronavirus to curb the spread of the disease, a government official said Thursday.

In an interview on ANC, Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the government’s national policy against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), said several cities in Metro Manila has started testing suspected cases in their communities.

"The testing, the tracing and also the treatment, this is our strategy. We really have to detect, isolate and treat possible COVID-19 cases," he said.

Nationwide, there are 15 laboratories that can conduct COVID-19 tests while health authorities are expediting the accreditation of 15 other facilities, he added.

As of Tuesday, the country has recorded 5,223 coronavirus infections. The tally includes 335 fatalities and 295 people who recovered from the virus.

The Department of Health (DOH) earlier said the expanded testing would still be “risk-based," which meant that those from the vulnerable population would be prioritized.

At the top of the list for testing are patients with severe symptoms and are in critical condition. Also prioritized are elderly patients with mild symptoms or patients with pre-existing medical conditions.

During the interview, Galvez revealed that enforcing the enhanced community quarantine in Metro Manila has become a challenge for the police and military.

"They are really having a challenge in arresting more than 100,000 violators. We are appealing to the public that we need to obey and see the fruits of our labors," he said.

He added, "Those people who are violating the enhanced community quarantine, these areas have a lot of numbers of continuing spread of the disease."

Galvez urged local government units (LGUs) to strictly enforce precaution measures.

"We are enjoining you to aggressively comply with the directive of the President. This enhanced community quarantine is for all of us. So we can save more lives and we can finish this undertaking in soonest possible time," he said.

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