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Local government units (LGUs) will first have to consult with the Department of Health (DOH) before acquiring diagnostic testing kits for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), a Palace official said on Sunday.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made this remark after the health department assured that there are “sufficient” testing kits at this point.

“All LGUs must first coordinate with the Department of Health (DOH) prior to acquiring, purchasing, or utilizing testing kits within their respective territorial jurisdictions,” he said in a public address aired over state-run PTV-4.

The Philippines now has more capacity to test more patients for Covid-19 after receiving 100,000 testing kits from China on Saturday which will be distributed from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to sub-national laboratories in the country.

Besides the RITM, other hospitals also conducting Covid-19 testing are the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Benguet, and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

The University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) and the Department of Science and Technology recently developed a local Covid-19 testing kit, which is now used for field testing.

These local testing kits will be available for commercial use after at least two to three weeks of validation.

Earlier, the World Health Organization (WHO) also committed to provide the country with 2,000 testing kits.

Currently, the government is testing an average of 950 to 1,000 persons under investigation (PUIs) for Covid-19 a day.

Last Wednesday, Nograles said the triage protocols that determine who should be prioritized in testing for Covid-19 may change once more testing kits become available in the country.

“With the arrival of new kits either purchased or donated then there is a chance that the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) may change the protocols or update the protocols,” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang.

Based on the DOH’s triage system, those who are showing Covid-19 symptoms, have traveled to infected countries, and who had contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case will be prioritized for testing.

These individuals will immediately be classified as either a person under monitoring (PUM) or a PUI.

A PUM refers to one with no symptoms but has had a history of travel to China in the past 14 days while a PUI refers to one with symptoms such as fever, cold, and cough and has a history of travel to China in the past 14 days.

The DOH on Sunday reported a total of 380 confirmed Covid-19 cases, 25 deaths, and 15 recoveries in the country. (PNA)

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