125,000 coronavirus test kits to arrive in PH on March 21

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque said that the country is expecting 125,000 novel coronavirus testing kits coming from China and South Korea. He said that these kits will arrive in the Philippines early Saturday morning, March 21.

In an interview with DZMM on March 20, the health secretary said that proper authorities have been alerted regarding this to speed up the arrival of the test kits.

“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.

(Rough translation: I’m focused on the test kits because there will be 25,000 coming from South Korea and 100,000 coming from China at 5 AM tomorrow. I’m also focused on the Bureau of Customs and FDA to speed up the release [of the test kits] because our major drawback is our testing capacity.)

The incoming test kits will allow the increase in number of testing that experts can do in the country. At present, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) can do 450 tests per day. Four new laboratories that have just been accredited by the World Health Organization (WHO) are given 100 test kits due to limited supply.

DOH is forced to test persons under investigation (PUI) with severe symptoms due to the limited number of test kits. These patients who are prioritized include the elderly who manifest COVID-19 symptoms, whether mild or severe, and those who have underlying medical conditions.

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