Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Jan. 29, 2020 said that the Philippines will be able to locally diagnose the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019 nCoV, in 48 hours.
Philippines now capable of testing samples for novel coronavirus — DOH
Ratziel San Juan ( - January 29, 2020 - 6:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Wednesday said that the Philippines would be able to locally diagnose the 2019 novel coronavirus, or 2019 nCoV, in about 48 hours.

The Japanese counterpart of the local Research Institute for Tropical Medicine provided the RNA primer that would enable the Philippines to conduct confirmatory testing of the 2019 nCoV on its own.

The country still has no confirmed cases of the 2019 nCoV and the Department of Health is relying on an Australian laboratory to confirm the test samples of patients under investigation.

“The Japanese counterpart of the RITM today has just brought with them the team a primer — RNA primer — which is needed to help us identify whether the novel coronavirus suspected cases (are positive) once their throat swabs, their nasopharyngeal swabs are submitted to RITM for testing,” Duque told solons during the "Question Hour" held at the House of Representatives on Wednesday.

“With the RNA primer, yes, in about 48 hours, we shall be able to set up our own capability to detect novel coronavirus and no longer need to send for confirmatory testing to Melbourne, Australia.”

This would effectively cut the processing time in half since Australian experts would no longer need to be consulted for virus detection, according to the Health secretary.

As of Wednesday noon, the Health department is waiting for the screening results of 16 patients from the local RITM, as well as six confirmatory results from an Australia-based Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory.

Four patients have been discharged under monitoring.

One death due to pneumonia has been recorded for a PUI admitted to the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, but it is undetermined if 2019 nCoV factored in the case.

“For the first round of testing, we are adequately supplied. We will have to find out the volume of the supplies that have been brought by the Japanese contingent to help us precisely to do the testing ourselves and confirm it ourselves,” Duque said.

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