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Gov’t says 1M people tested for COVID-19

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THE government is on track to boost its coronavirus testing capacity, having tested about a million people, it said on Monday.

The country now has 85 laboratories that can test 25,000 virus samples daily, Vince B. Dizon, deputy chief enforcer of anti-COVID-19 efforts, told an online news briefing.

He said expanded testing guidelines would be released soon.

Meanwhile, Baguio City Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong has been appointed “contact-tracing czar.”

He promised changes to how the government is tracing people who may have had contact with those who have the coronavirus.

Mr. Magalong said he would train people on the proper way to trace contacts, including interview skills and a contact-tracing e-system.

The government is seeking to hire 50,000 contact tracers this month on top of the 30,000 now.

Meanwhile, Speaker Alan Peter S. Cayetano urged the government to fast-track the expanded testing for tourism frontliners as the country prepares to reboot the sector.

A poll by the Department of Tourism on May 15 to 24 showed that 77% of Filipnos were willing to travel to local destinations once restrictions are lifted.

“An aggressive and sustained COVID-19 testing of our tourism frontliners is necessary to facilitate faster recovery in the tourism industry and ensure a safe working environment,” Mr. Cayetano said in a statement.

He urged the Tourism department to work with a government task force and its private sector partners to quicken coronavirus testing for workers in key tourist spots.

“Our tourism sector needs to adapt, innovate and manage the changing requirements of local tourists as we transition to a new normal phase,” he said.

The House of Representatives earlier approved a bill seeking to set up testing centers in tourist destinations to boost the industry and create jobs.

The measure proposes to allot P10 billion on mass testing for 2020 and 2021. — Gillian M. Cortez and Patricia S. Gajitos





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