President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wants the health department to infuse more money to improve the country’s COVID-19 testing capacity particularly the conduct of reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
“We also need to increase the RT-PCR testing capacity in NCR Plus areas so as to handle the influx of tests and to ensure that laboratories are operational seven days a week,” President Duterte said during his regular Talk to the People on Monday.
“Ang universal complaint talaga is kulang ang — ang facilities ng ano, itong RT-PCR.”
In response, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the Department of Health’s testing expansion is ongoing with the aim of providing every province with RT-PCR testing capability that also include the private sector running more RT-PCR laboratories.
Currently, there are 312 laboratories doing RT-PCR tests, according to Duque.
Asked by the President if there’s a need to buy additional equipment, the health chief said, “Mayroon naman tayong pera for the 2022 Budget. I think there — kung hindi ako nagkakamali mga P7 billion ang outlay for that. So we will just continue to buy some more.”
Experts said that if the country’s positivity rate exceeds its testing capacity, numbers reported in daily case bulletins will no longer reflect the reality of what is happening on the ground.
This scenario will make projections unhelpful and will blind analysts to the real situation.
To stem the tide of coronavirus’s further spread, the government placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Rizal and Laguna under Alert Level 3. The President said more localities will be placed under the stricter quarantine period if the situation worsens.
Batangas, Bataan, Cagayan, Pampanga, Zambales, Angeles City, Baguio City, Dagupan City, Iloilo City, Lapu-Lapu City, Lucena City, Naga City, Olongapo and Santiago Cities, are also under Alert Level 3 from January 9-15 to contain people’s mobility.
The DOH reported Monday 33,169 new COVID-19 infections in the country bringing the active coronavirus cases nationwide to 157,526 and the total count to 2,998,530 since 2020. There were 2,788,711 recoveries and 52,293 deaths. PND