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Duque not keen on mass testing



As the number of Covid-19 cases believed to be driven by the highly contagious Omicron variant increased anew, the public’s clamor for the government to implement free mass testing echoed again.

But the Department of Health (DoH), the leading agency in charge of recommending policies amid the pandemic, seemed not keen on the idea of mass testing.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, who is also the chairperson of the country’s pandemic task force, rejected the calls citing that mass testing would cost the government to spend around P.14 billion per day and up to P42 billion per month.

“If we will conduct random mass testing of five percent of the population, how many are we? We are 100 million, so that would be five million per week divided by seven, that is 700,000 tests per day. The average [cost] for the test is P2,000. Multiply 700,000 by P2,000 per test, how much is that?” Duque said.

“That is P1.4 billion a day, that is P14 billion every ten days, that is P42 billion in one month,” he added.

The statement came after several groups, including lawmakers renewed their call to the government to conduct free mass testing amid the spike in Covid-19 infections.