Months after the influx of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines, the Department of Health (DOH) adds another goal on its list by aiming to testing 1.5% of the 110 million Filipino population by the end of July, according to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday.

Vergeire shared during a Malacanang briefing that the Philippines has a testing capacity of almost 50,000 per day since all 59 COVID-19 testing laboratories across the country are now fully-operational. 

“Nakukuha po natin ang rated capacity kapag tiningnan natin ang isang lisensyadong laboratoryo, base sa kanilang RT-PCR machines kung ilan ‘yan, base sa kung ang health human resources ay kumpleto, base rin po sa operating hours ng isang laboratory and then we compute for their maximum capacity na pwedeng magawa base sa resources,” she said.

However, she also cited that the actual testing capacity changes due to some “operational issues” in the laboratories, despite claiming that all laboratories are operational.

“Ang atin pong average ay pumapalo na po sa 10,500 to 11,000 a day for output. Hopefully po magtuloy-tuloy para pagdating ng end of July we can reach that we have tested 1.5% of the population,” Vergeire said.

The goal of 1.5% of the total population is equivalent to 1.65 million individuals. However, as of June 13, the DOH has successfully tested 468,681 unique persons. 

The health department is doing its best by executing various measures to narrow the gap between the actual and rated testing capacity. Additional subsectors—comprised of other frontliners such as barangay health emergency response teams and social workers, and other vulnerable population—were enlisted in the expanded testing guidelines of the DOH.

“Expectedly, there will be an increase in the samples that will be submitted to our laboratories,” she added.

The process of the accreditation of other COVID-19 laboratories is still ongoing. (RJ Espartinez)