New daily average of COVID-19 testing in PH nears 21,000, says DOH

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 13 2020 08:45 PM

Healthworkers conduct swab tests at a drive thru testing center in Bonifacio Global City, Taguig on April 29, 2020. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said that the country is now averaging almost 21,000 COVID-19 tests daily.

“Nakapag-conduct na tayo ng total of 978,884 tests, kung saan 908,779 ang individuals tested. 146,763 tests ang nagawa sa linggong ito, at 20,966 tests ang average tests na ginagawa on a daily basis sa nakaraang pitong araw,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing.

(We have been able to conduct a total of 978,884 tests, where we tested 908,779 individuals. We were able to conduct 146,763 tests this week, and we averaged 20,966 tests on a daily basis in the last 7 days.)

Graph from DOH

This is 1,500 tests higher than the average number of daily tests 4 days ago. 

The Philippines has been struggling to expand COVID-19 testing due to operational problems of laboratories. Despite a testing capacity of more than 50,000 in a day, the country has only been able to run around 20,000 tests.

The number of tests has gone up in the past weeks as more laboratories have been accredited, reaching 85, as of July 12.

Only tests done using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) technique are included in the country’s official count. 

Vergeire said that of the more than 900,000 individuals tested, 71,103 tested positive, bringing the country’s positivity rate to 7.8%, as of July 11, which is higher than the World Health Organization’s benchmark or recommendation of 5%.

Testing backlog, or samples that are not immediately tested, is still relatively high at 11,852, as of July 11.

The DOH has yet to release updated figures, although Vergeire explained before that the backlog is because of new laboratories and supply problems.

Vince Dizon, the deputy chief implementer of the National Action Plan Against COVID-19 and chief testing czar, said the total number of tests conducted in the country is expected to breach 1 million this month.

Data from DOH. Graph from ABS-CBN Data Analytics