Philippine health chief ‘OK’ and working while awaiting COVID-19 test results

Health Secretary Francisco Duque, who has been in self-quarantine since yesterday after a senior official at his agency tested positive for COVID-19, said today that he is “OK” and continuing to work while awaiting his test results.

Duque told radio station DZMM this morning that he remains asymptomatic, but is monitoring his pre-existing health conditions.

“I’m okay, I work. I’m monitoring my asthma and hypertension, because these are also predisposing factors,” Duque said.

“I have no new symptoms,” the 63-year-old health chief added.

He noted that he and his wife, who is also a doctor and has a cough, are monitoring each other “from afar.”

Duque also shared the news that he is expecting 125,00 imported COVID-19 test kits to arrive in the country this weekend.

“Twenty-five thousand from South Korea and 100,000 from China [will arrive] tomorrow at 5am. I’m focused on getting Bureau of Customs and the FDA [Food and Drug Administration] to speed up its release, because that’s our number one lack right now, adequate testing capacity.”

Meanwhile Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters today that the agency has no plans of mass testing Filipinos for COVID-19, for now. The measure has been employed in countries like South Korea, which have seen much larger outbreaks and “have well-capable health systems and the capacity for that,” Vergeire noted.

“Right now, we still see no need to do mass testing,” she added.

“But of course, we are mapping these out, and the cases are in our radar. In case we reach that point where we have enough resources, the government can do it, and if it is imperative for the government [to] do it, we will do this if needed.”

Read: FDA warns public against buying ‘instant’ COVID-19 testing kits online

Due to the shortage of test kits, the Department of Health (DOH) is prioritizing the testing of elderly and symptomatic suspected patients. Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, told reporters  yesterday that the government may change it’s COVID-19 testing rules to accommodate more people when more testing kits arrive.

Filipino scientists from the University of the Philipines are also currently manufacturing at least 26,000 test kits for the government, and will ultimately distribute them to hospitals that have the capacity to run tests.

This article, Philippine health chief ‘OK’ and working while awaiting COVID-19 test results, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!