MALACAÑANG said Tuesday, July 21, 2020, that government is considering pooled sampling as a way to expand testing for the novel coronavirus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said government cannot afford to test all 110 million Filipinos.

“The reality is, hindi natin maa-afford ang testing sa lahat ng 110 million na Filipinos pero gagawa po ng hakbang ang gobyerno para mas maparami pa ang testing natin," he said in a virtual press briefing Tuesday.

In pooled sampling, swab samples from several individuals will be combined and tested so that fewer test kits are used.

Subjects whose pooled samples test positive for Sars-CoV-2 will be tested individually.

Pooled samples with negative results mean that everyone in the group is Covid-19 free.

"Easily, 25 million people can be tested using pooled testing at 'yan na po ang hakbang na ginagawa ng gobyerno dahil alam natin na 'pag na-test at nahanap natin sino ang may Covid-19 pupwede na sila i-isolate nang hindi na makahawa," Roque said.

In a televised briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the country’s Covid-19 Laboratory Expert Panel is studying the effects of pooled testing.

“Pinag-aaralan na po ng ating Covid-19 Laboratory Expert Panel or Clep ang pooled testing upang higit pong ma-maximize ang kapasidad ng ating mga laboratoryo,” Vergeire said.

“Sa pamamagitan ng pooled testing, higit pang tataas ang ating testing capacity,” she added.

So far, the country has already tested more than one million people for Covid-19. (SunStar Philippines)