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MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) is aiming to test 1.5 percent of the Philippine population for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) by the end of July.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the agency plans to maximize the country’s testing capacity which is currently at 50,000 per day. Currently, laboratories are only able to conduct 10,000 to 11,000 tests per day.

“Mayroon na ho tayong strategies na ini-employ (We are employing strategies) for these things para po magkaroon tayo nang stable na outputs (so that we can have stable outputs) per day and hopefully we can reach this goal of having 1.5 percent of the population tested by the end of July,” she said in a virtual presser in Malacañang.

To be able to maximize the testing capacity, Vergeire said there should be an increase in samples submitted to laboratories.

Vergeire said there should also be more laboratories licensed to operate in the country. From the current 59 labs, the DOH plans to increase number to 60 to 65 labs by end of July.

She also emphasized the importance of public-private partnerships in sourcing medical supplies for labs.

The DOH is also carrying out the hiring of encoders assigned to process Covid-19 data.

She also assured that the agency continues to address its backlogs due to operational issues.

“With these operational issues that we encounter daily, talagang hindi po maiwasan na mayroon po talagang nagkakaroon ng bottleneck (we cannot avoid having bottleneck),” she said.

Based on President Rodrigo Duterte's 11th report to Congress on Covid-19 response, a total of 398,914 tests have been conducted as of June 4.

There are 140 laboratories that are currently being evaluated in a bid to boost the country’s testing capacity, the report read.

Around 112 of the 140 laboratories are already at Stage 3 and above, it added. (PNA)