Increased testing capacity led to faster turnaround time for COVID-19 tests – Dizon

The country’s increased daily testing capacity has resulted in faster turnaround time in processing COVID-19 tests, National Action Plan Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer Vince Dizon said Thursday.

Factors that led to this improvement are the increased number of accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories nationwide which is now at 66; the steady supply of testing kits and other equipment; and the roll-out of an automated system for an orderly and smoother repatriation process for the huge number of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs).

“Dahil po sa increased lab capacity, ang ating steady supply, at dahil sa automation, bibilis na po nang bibilis ang turnaround time ng ating mga test. Ibig sabihin po nito, hindi na maghihintay nang matagal ang ating mga OFWs at iba pa nating mga kababayan para makuha ang kanilang tests.”

In the past, RT-PCR test results come out after weeks which has ensued to testing backlogs and prolonged waiting time especially among returning OFWs under quarantine.  

As of June, the turnaround time for the test results lasts from 48 to 72 hours – or within two to three days – compared to the two-week waiting time in March and April, and one week during May.

“Kagaya ng nakita natin sa Clark at ngayon pati na rin sa Metro Manila, within three days lang po ay napapauwi na natin ang mga OFWs (sa kanilang probinsiya) at pupursigihin pa po nating mapaigsi pa ito sa mga susunod na linggo at buwan,” Dizon added.  

The recent arrival of 1.05 million testing supplies will further boost the government’s targeted testing among communities through the Test, Trace, and Treat (T3) strategy.

The national government targets to conduct one million tests by July, and this will expand to include testing among non-medical frontliners such as the media, the police and the military, social workers and volunteers in COVID-19 facilities, and those who are asymptomatics in jails and in “hot spot” barangays.

To date, the country has exceeded its goal of 50,000 daily testing capacity by the end of June with 51,302 daily testing capacity as of June 19, or 2,465-percent increase from the 2,000 tests per day in March.

The total number of actual tests conducted reached 612,571 as of June 22, a 1,340-percent increase from the 17,414 tests conducted also in March.

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