MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday said it is investigating the drop in the number of COVID-19 tests conducted in the country, particularly in Metro Manila and six other regions.
Based on the data presented to the media, Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said that COVID-19 testing decreased to 539,229 this week from the 568,213 recorded in the past week.
She said Metro Manila registered the highest drop in the number of testing from 287,548 from the previous week to 258,047 the recent week, accounting for a 10.3% decline.
This, she said, translated to a lower number of positive individuals, from 66,654 to 50,194.
Meanwhile, other regions that posted a lower testing output include Regions 8, 9, 10, 11, Soccsksargen, and Caraga.
“We are currently assessing the reasons for this decline and if this reflects a true decline in cases or just affected by the other factors such as ongoing active case finding, contact tracing, and the use of the antigen to complement the RT-PCR testing,” she said in an online media forum.
The local government’s use of antigen tests could be the main factor driving the decrease in testing output, Vergeire said, but the DOH is also looking into possible logistical issues in testing centers.
“Baka walang magsa-swab o baka walang pang-swab, o’ yung reporting units baka nagkaroon ng mga sakit ‘yung mga tao, nabawasan ng work force. So lahat ng factors na ito tinitingnan natin para mas mabuo ang analysis,” she said.
(Maybe there are no more health workers to do the swabbing or they no longer have materials. Their personnel may have gotten sick, thus, lessening their workforce. We are looking into all of these factors to complete our analysis.)
NCR pandemic situation
With the drop in testing output, the DOH cannot yet say whether the pandemic situation in Metro Manila is improving, especially with the implementation of a new alert level system over the region.
Vergeire said that in the past two weeks, Metro Manila registered a negative 1 percent growth in cases, with its risk classification reduced to moderate from high risk as hospital bed occupancy rate decreased to 68.30 percent.
Intensive care unit (ICU) occupancy rate, however, remains high at 77.13 percent.
“It’s too early to say, hindi pa natin maibibigay at masasabi kung itong mabagal na pagbaba dito sa NCR ay talagang mako-contribute solely sa pagpapatupad sa policy shift,” she said.
(We cannot yet say whether the slow decline of cases in NCR can be solely attributed to the policy shift.)
The government piloted a new alert level system in Metro Manila, shifting the focus from community-wide restrictions to granular lockdowns.
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