QC to open own COVID test lab

August 17, 2020

THE processing of specimens for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Quezon City will soon be expedited with the opening of the city’s own molecular laboratory.

Mayor Joy Belmonte expressed optimism that the laboratory will be opened in the last week of August once the Department of Health approved its operation.

The laboratory, which has been accredited by DOH for level three, can process 500 tests per day with only one to two days turnaround time.

“We would like to thank one of our primary donors, Megaworld Corporation, for donating funds used to retrofit this building located in Barangay Teachers Village East and purchase equipment and supplies for this molecular laboratory,” Belmonte said.

The mayor added that the laboratory is also an investment that can process not only COVID-19 tests but also other medical tests such as tuberculosis, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), dengue, among others.

The city government has already procured equipment, extraction machines, and other needed facilities. Aside from the laboratory itself, the three-floor building will have its own area for data encoding, and sleeping quarters for the workers assigned in the facility.

At least 20 members of the city health department which include medical technologists, pathologists, laboratory manager, and other manpower support will man the QC molecular laboratory. They will undergo training for the highly technical requirements of the laboratory at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) next week.

Joseph Juico, QC COVID-19 task force head, on the other hand, said that while there were some challenges in putting up the laboratory, the city government is determined to beef up its efforts against COVID-19.

“There were challenges in hiring medical health workers, in getting equipment needed especially now when there is high demand for machines, and also in looking for a site which is most suitable to all the protocols and requirements. But the city government is dedicated to make QC independent in processing its own tests,” Juico said.

“The city will also lessen its expenses as it will no longer be paying private hospitals and laboratories for the tests. “We have private hospital partners right now but because of the continuous testing program, tests that will be processed in our QC laboratory will be cheaper compared to our current set-up with various laboratory partners,” Juico added.