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DOH: Testing for COVID-19 can now be done in 5 hospitals

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MANILA, Philippines — Samples for the new coronavirus can now be tested in five laboratories across the Philippines, the Department of Health said Friday.

Aside from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa, San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City can now process test results.

RITM used to be the country’s lone diagnostic lab for the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the five laboratories can process between 50 and 300 tests per day.

“Dahil dito mas mapapabilis na ang paglabas ng resulta ng tests,” Vergeire said.

DOH is also setting up two more sub national laboratories: Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City and Bicol Public Health Laboratory. The University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health is also being mobilized.

The agency reported 230 COVID-19 infections, including 18 deaths, as of Friday afternoon. There are additional 506 patients under investigation and 6,321 persons under monitoring.

There are concerns that the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines may be bigger due to the country’s very limited testing program. Only 1,269 tests have been conducted since January.

The country’s Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved COVID-19 test kits from China and South Korea for commercial use.

The Philippines has received around 100,000 test kits from different donors.

But the DOH said there is no need to conduct mass testing for now.

“Sa ngayon po, hindi pa naman natin kailangan gawin itong mass testing na ito,” Vergeire earlier said. But she noted that if the government sees the need to eventually widen the scope of testing, then mass testing would be conducted. — Gaea Katreena Cabico

NOVEL CORONAVIRUS

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