MANILA—Mass Covid-19 testing is among the recommendations of health experts to avoid resurgence of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19). It is a scenario that the government fears most lest it gets broke after a year or two of feeding 23-million “poorest of the poor” people under quarantine.
So far, the Department of Health (DOH) has accredited about 28 Covid-19 testing centers in the country. Conservatively, the combined capacity of these testing centers is 28,000 per day in the whole country assuming that each testing center has a single machine that can perform 1,000 maximum non-stop tests per day and assuming enough testing kits are available.
According to Dr. Tony Leachon, a medical consultant to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease, there are two types of tests; the rapid antibody test, and the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). RT-PCR tests can detect virus in human bodies, while rapid test kits can detect antibodies that can combat the virus.
Senator Dick Gordon, chairperson of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) said in a radio-TV interview, Tuesday, the voluntary organization has so far acquired eight testing units and another four units are forthcoming within the month. “We already anticipated the problem kaya bumili na kami ng mga test machines. Hindi biro yon ha, Php 16-milyon ang kinakailangan to setup a center,” he said.
He also said the PRC is planning to establish more testing centers nationwide to augment the present capacity of the government’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. “Kung matutuloy itong lahat sa amin, we can have a capacity of about 30,000 per day at baka makakahabol na tayo,” Sen. Gordon said.
He noted though that the testing process would be facilitated if the referring group such as the local government units and hospitals would do the swabbing, collection of personal circumstances and barcoding. “Hindi kami handa niyan so sila na ang gagawa para mabilis,” he further said.
The cost of testing is between Php 3,000 to Php 4,000 which will be covered by PhilHealth.