The Philippine Medical Association (PMA) on Sunday lamented the scarcity of testing centers for the new coronavirus, which has slowed the detection of people infected with COVID-19, which stood at 9,223 as of May 3.
A Department of Health (DOH) tally showed there were 295 new cases Sunday, 90 recoveries, and only four new deaths.
These brought the number of recoveries to 1,214 and total fatalities to 607.
PMA president Jose Santiago Jr. decried that despite the many pending applications for testing centers, there are still not enough facilities to determine the results of tests done.
At present, he said the Department of Health (DOH) has yet to approve 74 laboratories applying to be certified as testing centers for COVID-19.
He called on the DOH to speed up approval and certification of these laboratories to intensify mass testing.
As of Saturday, the DOH had certified only 20 laboratories as testing centers. From the testing capacity goal of 8,000 tests daily, the DOH recorded only 4,493 tests on Friday.
“While we have not yet reached the 8,000 per day testing output, we are happy to announce the start of the full-scale operation of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) laboratory,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Vergeire also said they are waiting for the delivery of equipment at Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital by May 10. Once they arrive there will be an additional 3,000 tests to the DOH testing capacity.
“DOH is continuously working with laboratories undergoing the licensing process for COVID-19 testing,” she said.
She said the DOH is also coordinating with the private sector led by public-private task force, or the Inter-Agency Task Force to increase testing capacity to 30,000 tests per day by the end of May.
Meanwhile, Santiago also proposed that early testing and treatment should be provided to health workers because they are exposed to the virus while on duty.
He noted that more than 30 health workers have died due to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
In a virtual press briefing Friday, Vergeire said the number of health care workers who tested positive for COVID-19 had climbed to 1,694 by May 1.
Based on the DOH tally, 33 health care workers died and 256 of them got well from the virus. Of the 33 deaths, Vergeire said 24 of them were doctors and seven were nurses.
The PMA president acknowledged that the supply for personal protective equipment (PPEs) for health workers is improving. He said hospitals are making the most of the supply.
Santiago also said hospitals are getting help from some health worker volunteers.
The Department of Foreign Affairs, meanwhile, reported that 34 more Filipinos overseas have tested positive for COVID-19, bringing total infections abroad to 1,741.
In a statement, the DFA said some 1,069 of Filipinos abroad are undergoing treatment across the Asia Pacific Region, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East or Africa.
It added that 11 more patients have survived the virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 465, However, the death toll increased to 207 with six new fatalities.
“It is our hope to see more recoveries in the coming days and eventually, zero fatalities among our people here and abroad,” the DFA said.
Also on Sunday, the Metro Manila Development Authority (MMDA) said 31 of its personnel who underwent a 14-day self-quarantine were in good condition.
MMDA chairman Danilo Lim ordered the 31 personnel to go into self-quarantine as a precaution after they were exposed to a person who showed symptoms of COVID-19.