The national government still has no plans to carry out mass testing to detect rising cases of COVID-19 infections in the country, as said by the Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
Responding to the pleas on social media calling for mass testing since March, Roque admitted that they do not have current plans to do mass testing like Wuhan did to its 11 million residents. Further, he said that the government would leave it up to the efforts of the private sector.
“As much as possible, ini-increase natin ang capacity ng testing kaya nga we’re aiming na aabot tayo sa 30,000 (a day), pero in terms sa mass testing na ginagawa ng Wuhan na all 11 million (residents), wala pa pong ganyang programa at iniiwan natin ‘yan sa pribadong sektor,” Roque stated in a Malacañang press briefing.
[As much as possible, we are raising our testing capacity that’s why we’re aiming that we reach 30,000 (a day), but in terms of mass testing like what is being done by Wuhan where they’re testing all 11 million residents, we don’t have a similar program and we’re leaving it to the private sector.]
This statement is made after Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III said that workers need not be tested for COVID-19 before allowing them to report back to work, unless they show COVID-19 symptoms.
Many employees are now returning to their work offices as quarantine restrictions ease. At least 50 to 75% of the workforce are already allowed to go back to work in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) areas, respectively, since May 16 after Luzon was placed under ECQ last March 16.
Under the Department of Health’s (DOH) protocol, COVID-19 test are only required for symptomatic people; they are also to prioritize people with severe flu-like symptoms, the elderly, those with pre-existing health conditions, pregnant women with mild symptoms, and healthcare workers with respiratory symptoms.
Several local government units have taken it up to themselves to initiate local testing as they hope to reduce infections within their jurisdictions.
To date, there are only 30 testing laboratories in the country. It can process up to 14,500 samples per day which barely touches the half of the month-end target. Four mega swabbing centers and quarantine facilities have also been put up in an attempt to declog crowded hospitals.