Price ceiling on test kits mulled

President Rodrigo Duterte is considering setting a price ceiling for COVID-19 tests.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the Department of Health’s (DOH) technical working group (TWG) has already submitted to Duterte’s office a draft of the proposed order.

“The President has already issued an executive order imposing price caps on medicines, so I don’t think it is impossible for him to issue this executive order,” Roque said.

He declined, however, to say what the price cap might be.

“I cannot preempt the decision of the President. What I can assure is the responsibilities of the DOH’s TWG are already completed and waiting for the signature of the President,” Roque said in a televised press briefing.

Test prices have wide range

REVERSE transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for COVID-19 in Metro Manila hospitals and facilities range from P1,500 up to P19,000, depending on what facility is conducting the test and its turnaround time for results.

RT-PCR is considered the gold standard in COVID-19 detection.

According to a report on “24 Oras,” the GMA News Research team found the cheapest test to be at the Philippine Children’s Medical Center, for P1,500 (for PhilHealth members), while the most expensive was at Chinese General Hospital, which charges P19,000 for six to eight hours of processing time. The price drops to P5,500 for 48 hours processing time.

COVID-19 testing in other hospitals and facilities cost more for express results and there is an extra charge for home service. Willie Casas

1,761 new COVID-19 cases logged

The Department of Health (DOH) announced 1,761 new infections of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines, bringing the total to 376,935 on Thursday, as nine laboratories failed to submit their reports on time.

The DOH said the areas with the highest number of new infections were Quezon City with 85, Rizal with 74, Caloocan City with 73, Davao City with 70, and Laguna with 69.

The department said 740 more patients have recovered from the illness, bringing the total number of patients who have recovered from the disease to 329,848.

The DOH also reported 33 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 7,147.

This leaves 39,940 active cases that are undergoing treatment or under quarantine. About 83 percent of the cases are mild, 10.9 percent are asymptomatic, 2.1 percent are severe and 3.7 percent are in critical condition.

Private labs willing to test OFWs

More private labs are willing to test overseas Filipinos (OFs) arriving in the country for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19), Malacañang said on Thursday.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Project ARK, a private sector initiative to boost the country’s capacity to contain Covid-19, has announced readiness to process the specimen of returning overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) while the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) has yet to pay its remaining debt to the Philippine Red Cross (PRC).

The PRC has suspended its COVID-19 testing for PhilHealth until it is paid some P930 million in arrears.

No disruption in service, PhilHealth chief says

Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) president and CEO Dante Gierran on Thursday assured the public that the suspension of eight of the agency’s executives will not affect the state insurer’s mandate and services.

Ombudsman Samuel Martires earlier ordered the suspension of eight PhilHealth executives over the alleged anomalous release of P2.7 billion worth of funds under the interim reimbursement mechanism policy.

The suspension order stemmed from the grave misconduct, gross neglect of duty and conduct prejudicial to the best interest of service complaint filed by the National Bureau of Investigation in connection with the release of the PhilHealth funds.

Supreme Court asked to stop funds release

Former government corporate counsel Rudolf Philip Jurado has asked the Supreme Court to enjoin President Duterte from exercising emergency powers and disbursement of funds under Republic Act 11494 or the Bayanihan We Recover As One Act on ground that the law expired Oct. 12 when Congress adjourned.

In a petition for certiorari and prohibition, Jurado urged the Court to immediately issue a temporary restraining order and or a writ of preliminary injunction to prevent Duterte from exercising these powers since he has no more legal basis to do so as the said law has already expired.

Under RA 11494, Congress granted Duterte emergency powers as part of the overall effort to curb the spread of the deadly coronavirus.

Congress also passed the Bayanihan Law to give Duterte the power to disburse and realign funding to the anti-COVID fight.

Topics: Rodrigo Duterte , COVID-19 , Department of Health , Harry Roque , GMA News Research
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