Asian Development Bank increasing Philippine military’s COVID-19 testing capacity
MANILA – The Armed Forces of the Philippines received two coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing machines which can test about 100 people per hour.
The real-time Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing machines will be installed in the Philippine Army Molecular Laboratory in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City and will support the COVID-19 testing of AFP personnel in Metro Manila.
“ADB supports the Philippine government’s strategy to prevent and control COVID-19 by expanding testing, particularly in hardest-hit Metro Manila and surrounding provinces,” said ADB Director General for Southeast Asia Ramesh Subramaniam.
He added they have seen military personnel in action on the frontline from the beginning of the pandemic and they at ADB hopes the new testing machines will help ensure the safety of its essential workers.
For over seven months, the military has played a key role in implementing official COVID-19 control measures in the Philippines where they man checkpoints, distribute food, and manage local quarantine regulations. The government seeks to raise its daily COVID-19 testing capacity to about 50,000 by the end of the year, compared with about 31,000 last August 15.
The testing machines cost US$35,000 each, is part of ADB’s US$5 million Rapid Emergency Supplies Provision Assistance to the Philippines which was approved last March 2020. The program is known locally as Bayan Bayanihan with the program involved ADB working closely with AFP to immediately delivery emergency food assistance to about 162,000 vulnerable households in Metro Manila and nearby provinces in April and May 2020. This innovative program successfully brought in additional assistance from private and philanthropic organizations.
Over the past few months, ADB has approved a US$1.5 billion loan to help the Philippine government fund its COVID-19 response program and strengthen the country’s health care system. Other support includes a US$3 million grant last March to build a pandemic laboratory in nearby Pampanga province. The laboratory can process 3,000 COVID-19 tests daily. Equipment for the new laboratory was airlifted by the Philippine Air Force from Shenzhen, PROC, in April at the height of the strictest lockdown in Metro Manila.
Last April 27, ADB approved a US$200 million loan to help the government provide emergency cash support to vulnerable households amid the pandemic. Another US$125 million loan was approved by ADB last August 25 to help the Philippines upgrade its health services across the country through medical equipment and supplies procurement, upgrade and related training. (Melo M. Acuña)