Philippines has met its goal of increasing its testing capacity to 30,000 COVID-19 tests per day, Malacañang said, more than double than the figure mentioned just last Friday (May 22).
In a televised briefing, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the daily testing capacity had reached 32,100 as of May 20.
“We’ve reached 30,000 PCR tests per day. The original target was 30,000 by May 30 but as of May 20, we had reached 32,100 tests per day. We have exceeded our target,” Roque said.
Roque also said the country is seeking to have 66 COVID-19 testing laboratories in the country by the end of the month. The government aims to raise its testing capacity to 50,000 tests per day by June.
“Our first step to increasing the number of daily tests conducted is to expand our testing capacity. This means more accredited laboratories and more automated machines so that we are capable of testing up to 30,000 plus per day,” he added.
According to the DOH COVID-19 tracker released Sunday (May 24), there are 34 licensed laboratories equipped to perform reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests and eight laboratories licensed to perform COVID-19 testing using GeneXpert cartridges.
DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire clarified the 32,000 is the “estimated” maximum capacity daily of all licensed laboratories nationwide.
“This also does not include yet the factors that may affect the operations of each laboratory,” she said in a message to reporters.
Meanwhile, Roque said the next step after reaching is to improve the efficiency of laboratories.
“To achieve this, we need to a) improve our human resources through proficiency training, especially on the use of automated machines, b) improve our supply chain management of critical supplies for our labs, and c) improve our data management to verify and release results faster,” Roque said.
Vergeire said conducting 32,100 COVID-19 tests per day can only be done if there is no shortage of supplies and equipment in the accredited laboratories.
“The 32,000 [COVID-19 tests per day] is the estimated maximum capacity of all licensed labs in the country based on the number of machines, number of human resources, and the operating hours per laboratory,” Vergeire told reporters.
“This [figure] does not include yet the factors that may affect the operations of each laboratory.”
More than 272,000 individuals have been tested for COVID-19 as of May 23, according to the Department of Health’s online tracker.
The government plans to test up to 2% of the country’s population to determine the extent of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines.