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PH leads in COVID-19 testing in Southeast Asia

August 06, 2020 - Thursday 7:08 PM by PNA

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MANILA -- The Philippines has taken the top spot in terms of testing capacity in the entire Southeast Asian region, having tested more unique individuals than its economically advanced neighbors, the Department of Health (DOH) has reported.

As of August 4, the country has 99 licensed testing laboratories and has conducted a total of 1,643,539 tests, or an average of 28,938 tests per day, in the past seven days, the department said in a news release issued on Thursday.

This is significantly higher than Indonesia, which has tested about 908,000 over the same period, or an average of 14,291 tests per day, according to Our World in Data.

The Philippines’ total number of tests conducted relative to its population size is 1.5 percent, according to the DOH.

This is a significantly higher percentage compared to Indonesia, which has tested about 0.34 percent of its total population, according to Our World in Data.

The DOH attributed the increased testing capacity to the government’s continuing efforts to expand its capability to identify confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), along with the other facets of its national five-point response strategy – prevention, isolation, contact tracing, and treatment.

The DOH also reported that this expanded testing capacity has complemented the enhanced disease surveillance strategies, including active case finding, which resulted in more individuals being detected and tested.

With enhanced disease surveillance, 148 additional areas with clustering were identified and reported within the past week. These clusters of cases contribute to the observed increase in daily case reports.

Despite the observed increase in the number of cases being reported daily, the DOH noted that in terms of deaths and Case Fatality Rate (CFR), which as of August 5 was at 2,123 with a CFR of 1.8 percent, the country is still at a better standing compared to Indonesia, which has reported 5,388 deaths with a CFR of 4.7 percent.

The Philippines, in terms of deaths and CFR, is also faring better compared to the global average CFR of 3.7 percent.

The health department previously said this observed decrease in deaths and CFR is a result of improved overall case management and treatment protocols.

With the increased national testing capacity and enhanced surveillance resulting in more identified confirmed cases, the DOH, in coordination with the National Task Force Against Covid-19 and other line agencies, recently implemented a revitalized response strategy that shifts focus toward localized, community-centered responses to support local government units in containing identified clusters.

This revitalized response strategy is being developed with health experts and different medical societies through the Healthcare Professions Alliance Against Covid-19, for successful disease mitigation at the roots and to ensure that utmost primacy is placed on health. 

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