125,000 coronavirus test kits from China, South Korea to arrive in PH on March 21

Bonz Magsambol

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125,000 coronavirus test kits from China, South Korea to arrive in PH on March 21


The arrival of the test kits would boost the capacity of health officials to check more people for the virus

MANILA, Philippines – Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that 125,000 novel coronavirus testing kits from China and South Korea will arrive in the Philippines early Saturday morning, March 21. 

Duque said in an interview on DZMM on Friday, March 20, that authorities have been alerted about the shipments to ensure their speedy release.

“Tinutukuan ko ‘yung mga test kits kasi nga may paparating na 25,000 from South Korea and 100,000 from China tomorrow at 5 am. Tinututukan ko ‘yung Bureau of Customs saka FDA  na mapabilis ang release, kasi ‘’yung ating number one na kakulangan, ‘yung ating testing capacity,” Duque said in an interview aired on DZMM on Friday morning.

(I focused on the test kits because there are 25,000 kits from South Korea and 100,000 from China that will arrive tomorrow at 5 am. I coordinated with the Bureau of Customs and the Food and Drug Administration to speed up the release because this is what we lack now, the testing capacity.)

The additional test kits are expected to enable health workers to test more people for the virus. As of Friday, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine can perform 450 tests per day.

The 4 new laboratories which were recently accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO), were only given 100 test kits each due to the limited supply. 

“What my concentration is now is to ensure that those 4 subnational labs are really operating according to set standards of safety and accuracy of testing. Puwede na silang tumanggap (They can receive samples already), but that depends because of the limited test kits sent to them. One hundred pa lang ang mayroon sila sa ngayon (They only have 100 test kits each right now),” Duque said in a phone interview with Rappler.

The lack of test kits available in the country has forced the Department of Health (DOH) to prioritize tests on persons under investigation (PUI) with severe symptoms. Elderly who manifest COVID-19 symptoms, whether mild or severe, and those who have underlying medical conditions will automatically get tested for possible infection. (READ: When should you get tested for coronavirus?)

As of Thursday, the Philippine has 217 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 17 deaths, and 8 recoveries. – Rappler.com


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Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol covers the Philippine Senate for Rappler.