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Gov’t boosts testing capacity to 32,000

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PHILSTAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE government has boosted its coronavirus testing capacity to 32,100 daily, exceeding its goal of 30,000 samples by the end of the month, the presidential palace said on Monday.

This is six times the 5,000 capacity reported more than a month ago, and at par with the testing capacity of other advanced nations, presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque said at a news briefing.

“We have matched the performance of other countries such as South Korea, but of course because our population is larger, we want to do better,” he said in Filipino.

The government is also seeking to boost the number of testing laboratories for the coronavirus disease 2019 to 66 by the end of the month.

Meanwhile, a congressman said he had drafted a bill that will extend the special powers given to President Rodrigo R. Duterte by three more months until September to combat the coronavirus.

“Such powers are good for three months,” Cagayan de Oro Rep. Rufus B. Rodriguez said in a statement yesterday. “Unfortunately, two months after the effectivity of the law, the end to the pandemic is not yet in sight.”

He said the pandemic was unlikely to end by June 24. “We need to extend the effectivity of the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act and give the President additional time to address the pandemic,” he added.

Among the powers given to the President was realigning this year’s budget for anti-coronavirus measures. The law took effect on March 24 and will expire on June 24.

Mr. Rodriguez said the government had yet to distribute P100 billion in cash aid this month, while the Department of Health and its hospitals had yet to take delivery of medical supplies.

“Since there is a similar proposal in the Senate, I am urging the leaders of the two chambers of Congress to consider approving the proposed extension before we go on our annual mandatory adjournment next weekend,” he said.

Mr. Duterte would have to call for a special session if he wants his special powers extended if Congress fails to pass the bill before Saturday next week, Mr. Rodriguez said. — Genshen L. Espedido





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