Philippines coronavirus
A father with his children rides a bicycle on an almost empty road in Manila on March 20, 2020, after the government imposed an enhanced community quarantine against the rising numbers of COVID-19 infections. Image Credit: AFP

Manila: The Philippines is boosting its capacity to test more patients for the novel coronavirus after receiving 100,000 testing kits.

Five laboratories that can conduct up to 300 tests daily are in place across the Southeast Asian nation, and two more are being set up, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a briefing on Friday. China will donate 100,000 test kits and other medical supplies to the Philippines, its embassy said in a statement.

Just last week, the health department said the Philippines, which has a population of over 100 million people, only had 2,000 testing kits left.

“We can now test more patients. We can release their results faster, and we can act quickly for those who will test positive for the virus,” Vergeire said. The number of confirmed virus cases in the country rose to 230, including 18 deaths as of Friday noon.

Enough Food

The Philippines has sufficient food supply for its main Luzon island that’s on a month-long lockdown to stem the spread of the virus, the Agriculture Department said in a separate statement.

Some 20,000 metric tons of rice that’s enough for two weeks are stored in National Food Authority warehouses in Metro Manila and more will be available, the agency said in a statement. The capital region consumes about 110,000 of 50kg bags daily, 93 per cent of which are in private sector and household inventories and the 7 per cent is with the state-run food agency.

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Supplies of poultry, meat, eggs, vegetables and root crops are also enough for the 60 million people in Luzon island whose movements are restricted due to the lockdown, it added.