Mass testing for COVID-19 starts: Who and how many?April 15, 2020
Mass testing for COVID-19 had started yesterday, 12 days after the government announced it will conduct “massive testing” to enhance its response to the deadly contagion.
Carlito Galvez, Jr., head of the National Task Force against COVID-19, said the government will also “fast track the accreditation of substantial laboratories” to conduct mass testing on PUIs and PUMs.
PUMs refer to persons under monitoring, and PUIs refer to persons under investigation.
The Department of Health (DOH) has changed the classification from PUM to Suspect, and PUI to Probable.
Who gets tested?
The mass testing, however, is not as massive as it should be.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire outlined the guidelines for the mass testing.
The initial target for the mass testing includes persons or health care personnel with severe symptoms of the disease, with travel history and exposure to COVID-19 patients.
It will also target the vulnerable segment of the population: senior citizens, pregnant women, and persons with pre-existing medical conditions.
The mass testing, she explained, is progressive.
“If we have enough testing laboratories and testing kits, we can expand the coverage of testing,” she said during the media briefing on Monday.
The DOH expects to conduct 10,000 COVID-19 tests daily by the end of April, Vergeire said. Since April 4, the DOH had been conducting 3,000 tests daily.
So far, the health office had already conducted around 38,640 COVID-19 tests since the first confirmed case in January.
Several local government units will also conduct community mass testing. These LGUs are the cities of Manila, Quezon, and Valenzuela.
The health officials said the tests conducted by the LGUs should complement the national government’s mass tests.
Region 9 testing center
In Region 9, the DOH had already accredited the regional laboratory of the Department of Agriculture (DA) as a testing center for coronavirus.
The new testing center, which location is in Zamboanga City, has yet to start operations.
Rep. Sharky Palma of the first congressional district of Zamboanga Sibugay had expected the testing center will be operational by April 20. (Mindanao Sun)