Filipinos are finding it harder to book RT-PCR tests due to a surge in demand as the Omicron surge coincides with flu season. More people are encouraged to take a swab test so they can properly isolate themselves if they end up testing positive for COVID-19.
RT-PCR testing detects the presence of specific genetic material and is the gold standard for detecting COVID-19. Results can take up to 24 hours due to the laboratory work required and is more expensive than other tests. Faster saliva and rapid tests come at cheaper price points, but a follow-up RT-PCR test is still recommended.
Below, we list places that offer free or lower-priced RT-PCR tests in case you’re exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19. Prices are below P3,000.
Things to know:
While some cities and services offer free swab tests or even paid testing for individuals, take note that you may be required to present a doctor’s request or endorsement, or proof of residence. Bring a valid ID, PhilHealth ID, and your own pen for good measure.
For testing done at local government units or barangays, free swab tests are often granted to residents only. Some may also have appointment systems in place which do not accept same-day testing or walk-ins.
Expect long lines when you go to testing venues. More people are coming down with COVID-19 symptoms during flu season and are getting tested to determine if they really have the virus. Aside from patience, be sure to wear a mask at all times and maintain social distance. Disinfect frequently to prevent spread of infection.
After getting tested, leave the venue immediately and isolate at home while waiting for the results. RT-PCR test results are usually e-mailed a day after testing.
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Here’s a list of cities and services offering free or cheaper swab tests:
The drive-thru RT-PCR testing service at Quirino Grandstand is free but it is strictly by appointment. You can contact the following numbers for a slot:
- 0960 822 9384
- 0977 729 7572
- 0915 065 6335
- 0961 628 1414
- 0961 062 7013
- 0995 496 6176
- 0968 438 9304
Philippine General Hospital
Walk-ins are not allowed and all testing must be scheduled via e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org). Tests are priced at P2,000 each and can go lower with PhilHealth coverage.
Residents can avail free RT-PCR tests, which can be done in their respective barangays. For COVID-19 exposure, call (02) 8 643 000. Non-residents can also get a swab test for P2,800.
Chinese General Hospital
According to their hotline, RT-PCR testing can only be done via booking an appointment online. Patients with doctor’s request forms and PhilHealth ID plus proof of contributions can get tested for free.
Residents can get a swab test for free at the Marikina Hotel. For appointments, contact 161, 0965 536 9954, 0925 686 6466.
Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
The RITM offers swab tests for free and runs on an online appointment system. Only slots for the next two days can be booked on the site and once filled, you’ll have to check again tomorrow.
Philippine Children’s Medical Center
Swab tests are priced at P1,600. Those who need to get tested must present a doctor’s request form and may walk in from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
If you think you’re COVID-positive, you can call 0977 240 5218 for a contact tracer to get in touch with you and get an RT-PCR test for free.
You can register online or contact the following numbers:
- 8703 2759
- 8703 4389
- 0916 122 8628
- 0908 639 8086
- 0931 095 7737
Residents may log into the Trace website and check for available dates. You’ll need to fill up basic information and a valid ID.
If you really need to get tested as soon as possible and can’t wait for an RT-PCR test result or slot, you can still take an antigen test.
Via Office of the Vice President
Vice President Leni Robredo’s Swab Cab is offering free walk-in antigen tests. Check out the OVP Facbeook page for updates.
Isolating and can’t leave home? Angkas can bring a saliva antigen test straight to your doorstep. The test itself is P1,500 with a service fee of P400 for advanced booking of the rider who will bring the test and transport your sample to the Philippine Red Cross for lab processing.
Same day bookings cost P700 on top of the P1,500 fee.