Presidential Spokesperson Secretary Harry Roque Jr. on Tuesday, May 19, announced that the government is doing expanded targeted testing.
Secretary Roque pointed out that no country is currently engaged in mass testing, and that the use of the term causes confusion among many, with people thinking that everyone should be tested, which is not the case.
“Unang-una, siguro po kase, mali yung ginagamit nating term na mass testing. Ang tawag po dapat ay expanded targeted testing. Wala pong bansa sa buong mundo na tine-test ang lahat ng kanilang mga mamamayan. Kaya nga po mali ang terminong mass testing,” explained Sec. Roque.
The Palace official further explained that since no countries will be able to test all of its citizens, the key to testing is to work on benchmarks. Roque said that what this means is that only 1 to 2 percent of the population of the entire country will be tested, or in the case of an epicenter, even higher than up to 10 percent.
“Wala pong perpektong formula, kailangan lang nating sundin ang global benchmark and build capacity to test broadly and swiftly. At ito po ang ating ginagawa,” the President’s spokesman said.
On the DOH not requiring COVID-19 testing for returning employees, Secretary Roque confirms that there really is no provision in the DOH guidelines requiring employers to test their employees upon returning to work.
“Pero kung nagbo-boluntaryo po ang private sector na i-test ang kanilang empleyado bago bumalik sa kanilang mga trabaho, hindi po tututol ang gobyerno. Magpapasalamat pa, pero hindi po ibig sabihin na walang expanded target testing ang ating bayan,” said Secretary Roque.
The Presidential Spokesperson added that the expanded target testing per DOH is based on international practice guidelines. Only individuals who need to be tested will undergo testing.
As per DOH guidelines, priority testing is being done for critical or severe cases, mild cases but vulnerable, mild cases but not vulnerable, and for asymptomatics but with close contact or with history of travel.
Secretary Roque also underscored that the country’s testing capacity has grown to 11,127 tests per day as of May 15 from only 5,000 tests daily as of May 2.
“We plan to be able to reach the capacity of doing 30,000 tests a day,” said Sec. Roque, adding that the government has already procured rapid testing kits that were distributed to local government units that do not have existing PCR testing laboratories.
“Kinakailangan lang po na pagka-gumamit ng rapid testing kits eh sumunod po sa istriktong health protocols gaya ng pagsusuot ng mask, social distancing at istriktong isolation protocols habang naghihintay ng confirmatory PCR test kung nag positive po sa rapid test,” Roque said. ### OPS-PCOO