With the COVID-19 pandemic still causing disruption to the normality in the country, mass testing has been ordered by the Department of Health (DOH). A total of 16 subnational laboratories are currently accredited by the DOH to take samples from high-risk individuals—those who are pregnant, elderly, or with co-morbidities. Different cities, such as Marikina, are also processing their certification and accreditation from the DOH so it could start its mass testing as well.
Despite this, the need to speed up testing and release of results remains high as the first set of test kits used by the country took around two days to report results. Good thing, the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) and the Philippines Genome Center developed a test kit that is much cheaper than the first and can yield results in just several hours.
Now, the DOH has announced that aside from the UP-NIH developed test kits, the country has also procured new testing kits that could yield results in around 45 minutes. The GeneXpert test kit is a RT-PCR test—a rapid test kit that needs to be analyzed in the laboratory using chemicals to see whether a sample has the COVID-19 virus or not.
“Ang GeneXpert ay lab-based pa rin siya pero 45 minutes, less than an hour ang turnaround time,” said Inter-Agency Task Force spokesperson Karlo Nograles. Just like other test kits, GeneXpert requires reagents and chemicals to test an individual’s throat and nose swab samples—it just releases results in a shorter amount of time.
As of writing, over 42,000 individuals have been tested in the country, and the government is aiming to test more as they procure more test kits for Filipinos. Currently, the country has a total of 5,878 confirmed cases, 487 recoveries, and 387 deaths.