THE GOVERNMENTaims to expand testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) even as it continues to struggle with meeting targets and the total number of positive cases in the country exceeded 40,000 on Friday.
Palace Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, in a briefing, said the government can go beyond its prioritized categories to include even those without symptoms and other frontliners following the procurement of 10 million test kits.
As of mid-June, the country had a testing capacity of 42,000 per day, based on President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s report to Congress. However, Department of Health (DoH) data showed only an average of 11,5000 were being conducted.
“Kasama na rin po ang mga asymptomatic at posibleng makasama na rin po iyong iba pang mga frontliners gaya po ng media. Iti-test din po natin iyong iba pang mga ahensya ng gobyerno na nagsisilbing mga frontliners (The asymptomatic and possibly other frontliners like the media will be included. We will also test other agencies of the government that serve as frontliners),” Mr. Roque said.
The national task force handling the COVID-19 response and the DoH will soon issue guidelines on the expanded testing, he added.
Less than 1% of the country’s total population have undergone testing so far. The DoH said it aims to test 1.5% of the population by the end of July.
Meanwhile, the DoH reported 1,513 additional cases on Friday, bringing the total to 40,336.
The DoH said the latest additional cases consisted of 688 fresh cases, or those reported in the last three days, and 843 late cases.
The fresh cases camefrom only 57 out of the 70 accredited testing labs.
An additional 400 recoveries were also reported, bringing the total to 11,073, while deaths reached 1,280 with an additional six.
In a related development, former Social Welfare Secretary Judy M. Taguiwalo led a group that filed a plea before the Supreme Court (SC) to compel the government to provide free COVID-19 testing to the public.
Ms. Taguiwalo, who heads the Citizens’ Urgent Response to End COVID-19 (CURE COVID), and 10 other petitioners said in their filing that the virus”continues to lurk and spread in communities” and it is the obligation of the government to protect Filipinos from the virus. — Gillian M. Cortez