The Department of Health reported that the Philippines has taken the top spot in terms of testing capacity in the entire Southeast Asian region, with the country having tested more unique individuals than its economically advanced neighbor countries.
As of August 4, 2020, according to DOH data, the country has a total of 99 licensed testing laboratories and conducted a total of 1,643,539 tests, testing an average of 28,938 tests per day within the last 7 days. This is significantly higher than Indonesia which has tested a total of around 908,000 as of August 4, and testing an average of 14,291 per day within the last 7 days according to Our World in Data.
The Philippines’ total number of tests conducted relative to its population size is 1.5% according to DOH data, a significantly higher percentage compared to Indonesia which has tested around 0.34% of its total population according to Our World in Data.
This increased testing capacity is the result of the government’s continuing efforts to expand its capability to identify confirmed COVID-19 cases, in congruence with the other facets of its national 5-point response strategy. Other facets of this national strategy include prevention, isolation, contact tracing, and treatment.
Moreover, DOH reported that this expanded testing capacity has complemented the enhanced disease surveillance strategies, including active case finding, which resulted in more individuals detected and tested. With enhanced disease surveillance, 148 additional areas with clustering were identified and reported within the last 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 emphasized that in terms of deaths and Case Fatality Rate (CFR), which as of August 5 is at 2,123 with a CFR of 1.8%, the country is still at a better standing compared to Indonesia which has reported 5,388 deaths with a CFR of 4.7%.
The Philippines, in terms of deaths and CFR, is also faring better compared to the global average CFR of 3.7%. The Health Department previously noted that this observed decrease in deaths and CFR is a result of improved overall case management and treatment protocols.
Lastly, with the increased national testing capacity and enhanced surveillance resulting in more identified confirmed cases, DOH, in coordination with the National Task Force Against COVID-19, and other line agencies recently implemented a revitalized response strategy which 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, in order to ensure successful disease mitigation at the roots, and ensure that utmost primacy is placed on Health./Stacy Ang