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DOH expects more cases as RITM ramps up testing

By Marjaleen Ramos

The number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines is expected to increase as testing capacity ramps up, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE)

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (Facebook/ MANILA BULLETIN FILE)

“Kasi nga napalawig na natin ang testing capacity ng RITM [Research Institute of Tropical Medicine]. Nung Sabado lang meron tayong hundred thousand test kits at tataas pa lalo ang ating number of cases,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in an interview with DZMM Teleradyo.

“Ngayong meron na tayong relatively more testing capacity, makukuha na natin yung talagang bilang ng ating COVID-19 infections sa mga komunidad,” he added.

Duque also mentioned that earlier this month testing of potential new coronavirus cases temporarily stopped due to a biosafety threat.

“Nagkaroon din ng suspension of testing ang RITM for a while. Nagkarooon sila ng malaking peligro. Naghinto muna sila ng testing nila, ni-reconfigure nila ang kanilang laboratory para siguraduhing ang safety standard ay hindi malalabag,” he added.

“Yung mga iyon may mga backlog. Sa ngayon hinahabol nila yung mga backlog na iyon na hindi lumabas ang resulta,” Duque added.

However, it was not disclosed how long the testing was suspended.

“Hindi pa tayo nagpi-peak dahil ngayon pa lang natin nakamit iyong — hindi pa masabing sapat — pero at least maraming test kit. Siyempre kung marami kang mati-test, malamang mas marami kang makukuhang positibong kaso kaya tataas pa rin talaga iyan,” Duque reiterated.

“Hindi naman komo nag-lockdown tayo e tapos na lang, biglang mawawala,” he added.

Luzon was placed under an enhanced community quarantine last Monday, March 17, 2020, due to the continuous rise of COVID-19 cases in the country.

Duque, however, maintained that the lockdown will allow authorities to easily conduct contract tracing to individuals who had possible contact with those with confirmed cases.

“Mas madali mong ma-contact tracing na sila dahil nakatigil na sila sa kanilang tahanan, mas madaling puntahan,” he said.

Duque also pointed out that Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the coronavirus, was placed under lockdown last January 23 but still reported a number of new cases three weeks after.

On Monday, the total number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines jumped to 462, the biggest daily increase so far. Of those, 33 deaths and 18 recoveries were recorded.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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