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Philippines introduces aggressive testing program ‘to find 15,000 unknown infections’

Philippines introduces aggressive testing program ‘to find 15,000 unknown infections’

The Philippines introduced a more aggressive testing program for the coronavirus on Tuesday to locate as many as 15,000 unknown infections, despite having implemented some of Asia’s strictest and earliest lockdown measures. The Health Ministry said on Tuesday that total infections have reached 5,223, while deaths have increased to 335.

Authorities have targeted several phases of ramped-up testing, starting on Tuesday with 8,000 people working at or admitted to Manila hospitals that were treating patients of Covid-19, a disease that has so far infected 4,932 people locally and killed 315.

The former military chief in charge of the national coronavirus task force said on Tuesday modeling suggested 75 percent of infections – or 15,000 people – had yet to be detected, so a big testing push in the capital could be decisive. “Our strategy is Metro Manila first because this is the epicenter,” Carlito Galvez said on radio. “When we test Manila, we can win this battle against Covid.”

The number of people tested stood at 33,814 as of April 12, a tenfold increase from March 29, although still far short of the 110,000 in Vietnam, which has 265 coronavirus cases and no reported deaths, Reuters said.