The Philippines plans to test up to 10 million people, or roughly a tenth of the population, for coronavirus infection as it seeks to maximize its capacity to screen for the disease, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
Duque revealed the target when asked by President Rodrigo Duterte during the chief executive’s weekly address to the nation. Duterte also reminded the public to wear facemasks outside their homes.
The target of 10 million tests could be reached by 2021, Duque said. Currently, the government is running up to 25,000 tests daily, which it hopes to ramp up to 32,000 to 40,000. The testing capacity is at 74,000 and some 1 million have been tested so far, he said.
“Hindi naman po natin pwede i-test ang bawat mamamamayan. Walang bansa po ang nakakagawa nito, kahit po ang pinakamayaman tulad ng United States of America,” he said.
As the economy gradually reopens and more employees prepare to return to work, hospitals and local governments have opened drive-thru and walk-in centers. There are two kinds of tests. There’s a blood-based rapid test which is inconclusive because it detects antibodies. An RT-PCR test is conclusive since it detects the presence of the virus in samples taken from a person’s nose and throat using a cotton swab, hence the term swab test.
Slowing infections in Metro Manila is key to preventing a return to stricter quarantines from the current GCQ or general community quarantine, that is in effect at least until July 31.