Marikina City needs to comply with biosafety standards before it can operate a testing center for COVID-19, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday.
Marikina PIO
Longer wait for Marikina COVID test facility
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The operation of what could have been the first testing center for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) initiated by a local government may be delayed if not shelved.

Marikina City needs to comply with biosafety standards before it can operate a testing center for COVID-19, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday.

“I have not seen the assessment report, but I was told the big problem of Marikina is non-compliance with biosafety protocols,” Duque said in a radio interview.

“That’s very dangerous because they will be dealing with live virus. It must be ensured that there will be no contamination that could lead to an epidemic,” he said.

Duque noted that the testing center is located on the sixth floor of the city hall. He stressed the need to operate the testing center in a hospital.

“The DOH (Department of Health) is looking at Amang Rodriguez Hospital, but there is no available space to house the testing facility. I told them to look for ways, but it would also be good if there will be a laboratory in Marikina,” Duque said.

He said the DOH is willing to provide assistance to Marikina in complying with biosafety standards.

“I’m not saying that it’s absolutely not possible to operate the laboratory inside the city hall, but it would be better if the laboratory is insulated to avoid public exposure,” Duque said.

He also clarified that the city government need not  construct a new building for the testing center.

Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro said he was saddened that the DOH disapproved the testing center.

“What the DOH should do is help us make this operational,” Teodoro said in Filipino over radio dzBB.

He said the city government spent millions for the testing center, including the machine and test kits.

“We were waiting for the assessment and final approval of the DOH, it’s sad this is what we got. Many of our residents are counting on us. We lack test kits, we may have imported test kits but we don’t have a testing center. This is how Marikina is helping the national government,” Teodoro added.

He said the city government might just donate the equipment and test kits to the DOH.

Residential buildings

In Makati City, Friendship Suites’ three residential buildings in Barangay Cembo will be used as an isolation facility for persons under investigation (PUIs) for COVID-19.

Mayor Abby Binay said each building has five floors that can accommodate up to 100 patients.

Each room has a receiving and dining area, a bedroom and a comfort room complete with hygiene products, such as soap, toothpaste, toothbrush, tissue, alcohol, clothes, towel and a digital thermometer.

The facility will be manned by employees of the Ospital ng Makati, who will be equipped with medical apparatus like X-ray machines, defibrillators and cardiac monitors.

Funeral homes

Meanwhile, on reports that some funeral homes refuse to provide services to people who died of COVID-19, Duque said he would raise the issue with the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

He said COVID-19 fatalities should be buried within 12 hours after death. – With Romina Cabrera, Ghio Ong

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