Testing czar Vivencio Dizon (File photo)

MANILA – The government will ramp up the detection of individuals with Covid-19 in NCR Plus—National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal—through deploying antigen testing, testing czar Vivencio Dizon said on Tuesday.

Dizon, also the National Task Force Against Covid-19 (NTF) deputy chief implementer, said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has decided to add 30,000 antigen testing per day in NCR Plus.

Metro Manila and its four nearby provinces are currently under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the surge of Covid-19 cases in these areas.

Dizon said the antigen testing will be on top of the average 50,000 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) daily testing nationwide, bringing the country-wide testing capacity of around 80,000 per day.

“We target the OCD (Office of the Civil Defense) to procure 500,000 (antigen test kits) to deploy in communities and hospitals in ECQ areas,” the NTF executive said in a Palace briefing.

Dizon added that there are only three antigen test kit brands that can be procured by the OCD.

These are the Panbio Rapid Ag Test, verified by the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Emergency Use Listing Procedure; Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM)-validated Lansion Biotech Dry Fluorescence Immunoassay; and the WHO- and RITM-validated SD Biosensor Standard Q.

“These will be used in hospitals to test their patients and health care workers, as well as mayors to test communities with a high prevalence of Covid-19,” Dizon said.

Dizon also said the Philippines ranked third in terms of Covid-19 testing capacity among Asian countries with over 100 million population, only next to India and China.

Daily Covid-19 testing capacity of the country is higher than Japan, Indonesia, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, he added.

He said the country’s average daily testing reached 51,104 between March 22 and 28 this year, with the highest daily tests on March 20 at around 57,000 RT-PCR tests.

Dizon added that the country breached the 10 million tests since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The country also now has 239 laboratories that process these Covid-19 screening. (PNA)