Vince Dizon, the country’s testing czar, has dismissed renewed calls for “mass testing” in response to the surge in COVID-19 infections as “dangerous,” saying the government can only do a “risk-based and targeted testing” at this point as recommended by experts.
During the televised press briefing today by Malacanang, Dizon also equated “mass testing” as testing every Filipino in the country.
“Mag-ingat po talaga tayo pagka sinasabi natin na ang solusyon sa COVID-9 ay i-test ang lahat ng Pilipino. Napaka delikado po niyan at hindi po talaga nirerekomenda ng mga eksperto,” Dizon said.
Calls for the government to do more testing cropped up after the record number of infections last month. No one has advocated testing the entire population of the country for COVID-19.
But Dizon maintained testing should only be “risk-based and targeted,” meaning it should be done in coordination with a health professional who will decide based on whether the person has symptoms, came in contact with someone who tested positive, or came from a place with a high incidence of COVID-19. This definition is also in line with the guidelines being used by the Department of Health for its expanded testing strategy.
“Ang problema sa concept ng mass testing, puwedeng ako mismo ang magdesison kung kailan ako magpapa-test, ang sabi ng mga eksperto dapat guided yung desisyon na yun ng mga professional,” Dizon said.
Nevertheless, Dizon said 500,000 antigen kits will be bought in line to boost testing to 80,000 to 90,000 per day especially in areas with high infection rates. The current daily testing rate is around 45,000 to 50,000 a day.
Meanwhile, palace spokesman Harry Roque said that the state-run Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth will subsidize RT-PCR tests of its members provided they are medical frontliners, economic frontliners, or have been exposed to a COVID-19 positive individual.
At most, Roque said what PhilHealth members will pay at most is P300.
“Wala pong dahilan na hindi makakuha ng libreng RT-PCR testing ang mga qualified,” said Roque.
The country’s total number of active cases is now at 152,562 after an additional 9,373 new cases today. Since the pandemic started, the Philippines have logged a total of 812,760 cases.
(Thumbnail and banner photo by Andy Zapata / The Philippine Star)