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Chinese doctors help Phl’s COVID-19 fight

Hananeel Bordey



The Chinese doctors are coming after all.

After a brief confusion on their arrival, Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago Sta. Romana said on Monday that only the details of the Chinese physicians’ travel are being ironed out by the host government with China.

The Chinese doctors will be helping in the Philippine government’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.

“Their arrival is part of what Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. had announced earlier,” Sta. Romana said. “The medical team from China are coming to help us fight the virus.”

“It will be done soon. Only the details of their travel are being considered,” he added.

Sta. Romana was clarifying an earlier confusion caused by the denial by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III of Locsin’s announcement about the Chinese medical team’s extension of support to the Philippines’ war against COVID-19.

“The medical team… talks are underway to have them come to the Philippines shortly, and there are continuous airlifts of medical supplies from China,” Sta. Romana said.

The Filipino envoy to China also mentioned that there are on-going initiatives from private Filipino-Chinese businessmen procuring medical supplies from China.

“These businessmen are picking up medical supplies. This is not government to government, but from Filipino-Chinese who donate what they purchase to Philippine health workers,” Sta. Romana said.

“What they bought in China are picked up from the airport for distribution,” he added.

Meanwhile, Duque said the recent arrival of additional screening kits for the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) has allowed the Philippines to run 1,000 tests a day from the previous daily average of 300.

Duque also said that while the capacity for testing grew, it may also spike the rise of COVID-positive cases in the country.

“Because our capacity grew — the testing kits increased and we can now run 1,000 tests — we should expect the number of COVID-positive cases would also spike,” Duque said. “Let’s not expect that just because we imposed a lockdown, our COVID cases will immediately drop.”

The Department of Science and Technology (DoST) announced that at least 120,000 locally-developed test kits for the coronavirus disease will be available starting Saturday.

In a statement, the Science and Technology department said that the Manila HealthTek Inc. will manufacture 120,000 test kits as the first batch of reagents arrived and this will enable them to start the manufacturing process.

DoST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said they will prioritize the production of 26,000 test kits for field implementation and distribution to certain hospitals that can do the testing.

“From 4 to 25 April, there will be a field implementation for the 26,000 testing kits funded under the DoST and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH) Project,” De la Peña said.

The hospitals include the Philippine General Hospital, Makati Medical Center, The Medical City, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center and Baguio General Hospital.

“The remaining 94,000 testing kits will be sold commercially by Manila HealthTek at around P1,300 per kit, which is cheaper than the units currently being used in hospitals which cost about P8,000,” De la Peña added.

The DoST chief noted that the Manila HealthTek announced it has enough orders from the private sector which intends to donate to the Department of Health.

Hospital and the field validation for the COVID-19 testing kits is ongoing and is expected to be finished by Wednesday.

“We have informed the FDA (Food and Drug Administration Philippines) that requirements for CPR (Certificate of Product Registration) Certification will be submitted on Wednesday at the latest,” said De la Peña, adding that the issuance of the CPR from the FDA is expected on Friday.

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