Duque: Testing capacity is PH's 'No. 1' weakness in coronavirus fight
MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Tuesday, May 26, that the lack of testing facilities is the country’s "number 1 weakness" in the fight against COVID-19.
"Ang pinakamaliwanag na puwang o kakulangan po na atin pong natuklasan bunsod ng COVID-19 pandemic ay ang atin pong mga testing facilities. 'Yan po ang talagang number one weakness po sa kasalukuyang sistemang pangkalusugan," Duque said in a Senate health panel hearing.
(The clearest gap that we found in the fight against COVID-19 is our testing facilities. This is the number one weakness in our current healthcare system.)
Duque made the statement when Senator Bong Go asked about the gaps and lessons the country has learned in responding to the coronavirus pandemic.
Recognizing the limitations of the Philippines' testing capacity, Duque said the government has been ramping up its accreditation of COVID-19 testing facilities nationwide.
"Sa testing natin ay aminado po tayo na iyan po ang isa sa pinakamalaking limitasyon po ng kasalukuyang sistema pero ginagawa po ng gobyerno, ng atin pong DOH, lalung-lalo na ang paunlarin ang bilang ng atin pong subnational laboratories at ang mga pribadong mga laboratoryo na nagko-compliment po sa ating hangarin na ma-expand at ma-ramp up ang ating testing capacity," Duque said.
(With regard to testing, we admit that this is our biggest limitation in our current system, but the government, the Department of Health, is doing everything to improve the number of our sub-national laboratories and private laboratories that would help to reach our goal of expanding our testing capacity.)
A week before May 31, the country has 42 accredited testing centers, and an average of 8,300 tests per day. (READ: PH's actual coronavirus tests far behind 'estimated capacity' of 32,000)
During the DOH virtual press briefing on Tuesday morning, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they are trying their best to meet the target, but operations are hampered in some areas due to limitations.
Among the factors she cited were the shortage of laboratory supplies locally and internationally, and the lack of sufficient medical personnel for the day-to-day operations.
Aside from "weak" testing capacity, Duque also cited the country’s lack of quarantine facilities, but he said this was being addressed by setting up temporary treatment and monitoring centers.
As of Monday, the Philippines recorded 14,319 cases of coronavirus infections, with 873 deaths and 3,323 recoveries. – Rappler.com