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U.P. coronavirus test kits may be rolled out on March 16

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday, March 11, that the COVID-19 test kit developed by scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP) may be rolled out on Monday, March 16.

“The commitment is to start it within a week after it was approved. Their target is to start accepting testings by Monday next week, and they have committed to 1,000 tests every week," DOH Undersecretary Eric Domingo, officer-in-charge of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), said. 

The FDA has approved the UP test kit, but it needs "emergency use listing" with the World Health Organization before it can be rolled out. 

The test kit is capable of fast detection of the novel coronavirus in samples taken from patients. The results can be ready in two hours. It will be reportedly priced at P1,320, or 6 times cheaper than its foreign counterpart, which costs around P8,500. (READ: #SalamatUP: Netizens laud U.P. scientists for developing coronavirus test kits)

Domingo, said that the use of the locally-developed test kits would help address the "increasing number of reported COVID-19 cases" that "require immediate diagnosis and monitoring."

In a span of 6 days, the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines rose to 46 from 3.

DOH Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine has the capacity to perform 300 tests per day.

“Kaya pa naman pong tugunan ang mga request for tests. Kapag dumating po tayo sa punto na tataas pa ang mga kaso, kaya nga po mino-mobilize ang ating partnership with UP-NIH and also the testing kits that have been locally-produced, para po ma-expand ang capacity ng ating laboratoryo,” Vergeire said.

(We can still respond to requests for testing. We can still attend to testing requests. When we reach the point where cases continue to increase, this is why we're mobilizing our partnership with the UP National Institute of Health. Also, the testing kits have been locally produced to expand our laboratory's capacity.)

As of Wednesday, the DOH has probed 763 patients for possible infections. Of the 49 confirmed cases, 45 are currently admitted to hospitals, two have been discharged, and two have died.

The global death toll of COVID-19 has reached 4,292 with 3,046 of the fatalities in China. The number of cases worldwide has risen to 119,541, with 80,967 of the infections in China. The virus has spread to more than 100 countries. – Rappler.com



Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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