Laboratories have been unable to process COVID-19 tests fast enough, creating a backlog of about 7,000 cases, the government’s testing czar said Thursday.
In a press briefing, testing czar Vince Dizon said the 30 accredited laboratories agreed in a meeting with the government that those that are not swamped would help with the backlog.
“We need to catch up with those 7,000 COVID-19 tests that have not been processed,” Dizon said in Filipino. “That’s why we met to find a solution.”
He said because of machines from San Miguel Corp., the testing capacity of labs such as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has gone up 80 percent.
With the help of private companies, he added, he was confident that the backlog would eliminated in two weeks.
From 5,000 tests a day on May 2, the country is now conducting 8,700 tests a day as of May 10, he said.
“Many of our laboratories in Metro Manila are experiencing backlogs because of mechanical defects and lack of supply. That’s why there are delays in testing,” he said.
Dizon, who is also the Presidential Adviser for Flagship Programs, and Bases Conversion and Development Authority president and chief executive officer, said the country has 30 accredited testing laboratories.
On Thursday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 258 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 11,876, nearly 60 days since quarantine measures were imposed nationwide to curb the transmission of the novel coronavirus.
Metro Manila accounted for 188 of the new cases.
The department reported 18 new deaths as a result of COVID-19, bringing total fatalities to 790.
The DOH also announced 86 new recoveries, bringing the total number of patients who have recovered from the disease to 2,337.
The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday reported 179 confirmed COVID-19 cases among its personnel, as 39 more police officers tested positive for the virus.
Based on its updated monitoring report on Wednesday evening, the PNP Health Service (PNPHS) said of the total, 57 have recovered, four have died, while 118 active cases are undergoing treatment.
The police force has ramped up mass testing among its front-liners and expects the number of positive cases to rise in the next few days due to pending results of some confirmatory tests.
Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration (BI) said all its 75 personnel assigned at the agency’s detention facility in Bicutan, Taguig City, as well as 84 foreign detainees tested negative for COVID-19.
BI Medical Section Chief Dr. Marites Ambray reported that a total of 159 individuals underwent rapid antibody tests on Tuesday at the detention facility located inside Camp Bagong Diwa.
Ambray said that due to the limited number of test kits, only 84 of the more than 400 alien inmates were tested. Those considered at-risk of contracting the virus, such as senior citizens and those with underlying medical conditions, were prioritized.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente welcomed the test results as a positive sign that protocols and measures instituted by the BI are helping prevent the spread of the virus among detainees and BI employees at the facility.
The Department of Foreign Affairs reported 88 additional Filipinos abroad have recovered from the coronavirus disease 2019, bringing the total number to 757.
The latest reports reaching the DFA also showed that the number of Filipinos overseas infected with COVID-19 rose to 2,310 with 77 new infections. Of the number, 1,284 are undergoing treatment.
It also recorded eight new deaths from the viral disease, raising the death toll to 269.
Europe had the highest number of COVID-19-stricken Filipinos at 682, followed by the Middle East and Africa with 673.
The Asia Pacific Region still had the least number of infections with 421, while the Americas recorded the most number of fatalities at 146.
Globally, COVID-19 has infected over 4 million people and claimed nearly 300,000 lives.
On Wednesday, the provincial government of Lanao del Sur said it has flattened the curve on COVID-19 infections.
At the same time, Gov. Mamintal Bombit Alonto Adiong appealed to residents to report all instances of irregularities in the disposition of government aid and violation of community quarantine rules. With Nash B. Maulana