Over 30,000 coronavirus test kits arrive in Cebu

Ryan Macasero
Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino says the kits were ordered from South Korea. The Visayas is expected to have over 40,000 test kits.

TEMPERATURE CHECK. A passenger at the Port of Cebu gets his temperature checked. Photo by Gelo Litonjua/Rappler

CEBU CITY, Philippines – About 30,100 novel coronavirus test kits have arrived in Cebu,  regional health officials assured residents in the Visayas as the number of cases continued to rise nationwide.

Department of Health-Central Visayas officials said in a press briefing on Thursday night, March 19, that 10,100 test kits have arrived in Cebu – 100 from the DOH main office in Manila – with an additional 20,000 arriving on Friday, March 20. 

The test kits would be used at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City, one of the first designated testing centers outside of Manila. 

According to a representative from the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas, they expected about 10,000 more test kits to arrive.  

The 40,100 total kits will be distributed with half of them allocated for Cebu City residents and the rest for testing PUIs across the Visayas. 

Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino, who was at the press briefing, said the test kits were ordered from South Korea.

There are about 7 million people living in the Visayas, about 1 million of them living in Cebu City.

So far only one coronavirus case was confirmed in Cebu. The DOH said the patient was recovering and preparing for discharge.

In Cebu, a person under investigation for COVID-19, or someone who had with influenza-like symptoms and exposure to the coronavirus, died before results came back. The PUI tested negative for the virus. READ: Woman waiting for coronavirus test results dies in Cebu City)

At least 6 PUIs in various provinces died before their test results were released. Swab samples of patients have to be transported to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa. (READ: 3 patients in Davao Region die while waiting for results of virus test)  

During the press conference, Dino said that 40,000 test kits would be available in Cebu for tests on PUIs across the Visayas region. 

During the joint press conference with Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia and the mayors of Cebu, Lapu-Lapu and Talisay cities, Gwendolyn Garcia said that the province would not impose a lockdown, only “stricter” border controls.

No sea trips and domestic flights from other parts of the country are allowed to enter, but people inside Cebu may leave provided there are existing trips. 

The World Health Organization on Tuesday, March 17, called on countries worldwide to test “every suspected case” of COVID-19

As of Thursday night, the Philippines recorded 217 COVID-19 cases, 17 deaths, and 8recoveries.

The global death toll, meanwhile, has reached 9,020, with 3,245 of the fatalities in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau). The number of cases worldwide has risen to 217,510, with 80,928 of the infections in China. The virus has spread to at least 157 countries. – Rappler.com

Editor’s Note: A previous version of this report said there are now over 79,000 deaths due to the coronavirus. The correct figure is more than 9,000. 

Ryan Macasero

Ryan covers Cebu and the Visayas for Rappler. He covers all news in the region, but is particularly interested in people stories, development issues and local policy making.