The Department of Health (DOH) today announced that by April 14, it will be capable of conducting 3,000 tests per day as a result of its recently expanded testing protocol. It also aims to further increase capacity between 8,000 to 10,000 tests by the end of April.

“The mass testing that we’re planning is targeted. We need to prioritize the vulnerable members of the population such as pregnant women, those who are immunocompromised, and our front line health workers who have the highest exposure to the virus,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during the Beat COVID-19 virtual presser earlier this afternoon.

With expanded testing, the DOH expects to get a fuller assessment of the public health situation, as the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country is expected to increase. The recent addition of laboratories to conduct tests alongside the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine drives the increase in the country’s daily testing capacity from 300 back in January to between 900 and 1,200 currently. 

The DOH also added that the testing kits devised by the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health have been approved by the Food and Drug Administration and will be ready for roll-out, further increasing the country’s capacity to undertake targeted testing.

In another development, the Undersecretary said that PhilHealth has announced it will shoulder the full cost of treatment for all COVID-19 cases until April 14 and will continue to provide some financial coverage after the said date. Health care workers and other personnel working in health facilities with COVID patients will also get full support even after April 14 in compliance with the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

The DOH also commended the City of Manila for passing a COVID-19 anti-discrimination ordinance for COVID PUIs, PUMs, and frontliners, especially healthworkers. Ordinance No. 8624 or the Anti COVID-19 Discrimination Ordinance of 2020 prohibits discriminatory acts against PUIs, PUMs, frontliners, and healthworkers.

“This is a necessary step towards avoiding unfair treatment and crimes against our countrymen who are victims of this virus, including our frontliners who are instrumental in our fight against COVID-19,” Usec. Vergeire said, praising the city’s initiative.

The ordinance came after another frontliner experienced discrimination and harassment. Usec. Vergeire denounced, “We strongly condemn these acts. Our healthcare workers and other frontliners are helping our country survive this crisis. Instead of turning our backs on them and hurting them because we are scared of getting infected, we need to give them thanks and celebrate them.  There is no match for their dedication and service to our country.”