The Department of Health today reported a total of 192 licensed COVID-19 testing laboratories nationwide having tested more than 5.8M Filipinos for the disease.


As part of the Prevent and Detect pillars under the Prevent-Detect-Isolate-Treat-Reintegrate strategy of the government against COVID-19, the DOH has placed primacy  on strengthening the nation’s testing capacity.


“As of today, every region has an licensed RT-PCR laboratory. Meron na po tayong 147 real-time RT-PCR laboratories and 45 GeneXpert laboratories across the nation,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.


The Secretary further explained that the two laboratory types process both reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests but only differ on how the laboratory samples are processed.


“Bukod pa rito, there are 55 laboratories applying for accreditation that are already on Stages 3 and 4 or the compliance and proficiency testing stages. Eto po ay 68% ng kabuuang bilang ng mga laboratoryiong nag-aapply kaya makakaasa po tayo na mas lalawak pa ang testing capacity ng bansa,” added Sec. Duque.


To date, DOH recorded a total of 6,236,830 cumulative samples tested and 5,874,023 individuals tested. Meanwhile, the cumulative positivity rate is at 8.7% as of December 12.


While the DOH noted an increase in laboratories, the Secretary warned the public to still be cautious on the threat of the pandemic. “Bagama’t patuloy na lumalawak ang ating kakayahan na ma-test ang mga close contact at mga symptomatic, mariin pa rin po naming ipinapaalala na your test result is not your immunity passport. Kahit negative ang result ng inyong swab test ay maaari pa rin po kayong mahawa kung hindi kayo mag-iingat, Sec. Duque said.


“We should always observe the minimum public health standards at maging BIDA solusyon. Muli naming pinapaalala na bawala ang walang mask, i-sanitize ng kamay, dumistansya ng isang metro mula sa ibang tao at alamin ang tamang impormasyon. Sumunod din po tayo sa mga ordinansa na ipinapatupad ng national at lokal na pamahalaan. Manatili po tayong maingat sapagkat andito pa rin ang virus at prevention is always better than cure,” Sec. Duque concluded.