More COVID test kits arriving, five sub-national labs now operation - DOH

IN line with its strategy to #BeatCOVID19, the Department of Health is accelerating its COVID-19 testing capacity.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said that in addition to the current 1,300 available kits and recently delivered kits (2,050) from China and South Korea, the DoH is anticipating additional 120,500 units from different countries, such as China, Korea and Brunei.

Duque also announced that five sub-national laboratories are now operating alongside the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine. These are San Lazaro Hospital, and Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center for Luzon, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center for Visayas and Southern Philippines Medical Center for Mindanao.

“These laboratories are able to process between 50 – 300 tests daily. Two additional laboratories are being set-up. Western Visayas Medical Center and Bicol Public Health Laboratory will undergo proficiency testing for one week before it can begin testing,” he added.

Duque further said that the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health as an extension lab has also been mobilized and is currently testing overflow samples from the RITM.

“We must  underscore the importance of laboratory certification due to the hazards of handling a live virus. The Department if exercising utmost care in certifying more sub-national laboratories and ensuring that biosafety measures are in place,” he stressed.

Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the three hospitals that the government is eyeing to be exclusively used for COVID-19 patients will be ready in a week’s time.
Vergeire said the DoH is now preparing 140 beds at the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, 120 beds at the Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan, and 40 beds at the Lung Center of the Philippines.

“By end of this coming week ay puwede na natin gamitin,” she said.

The Health official said that only stable patients from the said government hospitals will be transferred to other facilities.

The Philippines has 230 confirmed COVID-19 cases, and a total of 18 casualties as of Friday.