MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday announced that there are now two COVID-19 laboratories in Visayas as the Philippines expands testing to the rest of the country.
“Nabigyan na ng certification ang West Visayas Medical Center kahapon para sa independent testing,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III during a televised briefing. “Kasama ang Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), 2 na po ang independent testing laboratories natin sa Visayas.”
(We have given certification for independent testing to West Visayas Medical Center yesterday. With the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, there are now two independent testing laboratories in Visayas.)
VSMMC was among the first batch of subnational laboratories certified by the Department of Health last week.
Duque said the government is expecting the following laboratories to also be accredited soon: Bicol Public Health Laboratory, Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Science, Victoriano Luna General Hospital, St. Luke’s Hospital in Quezon City, and St. Luke’s Hospital in Taguig.
He said the additional laboratories will allow more patients to be tested for COVID-19.
As confirmed COVID-19 cases continue to rise, Philippine laboratories running confirmatory tests have been overwhelmed by backlogs. At one point, patients had to wait for their test results for an average of 5 to 7 days.
There were several cases of patients dying before learning they were positive of the disease.
The Health department has since assured the public of enough test kits and an increasing number of laboratories although it is still not enough for mass testing.
REFERRAL HOSPITALS OPEN
To address the congestion in Metro Manila hospitals, the Department of Health had assigned the Philippine General Hospital, the Jose M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, and the Lung Center of the Philippines as referral hospitals for COVID-19.
Duque said he visited two of the hospitals on Thursday.
There are now 21 COVID-19 patients and 29 patients under investigation (PUIs) at the Lung Center of the Philippines. Meanwhile, Jose. M. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital had 14 COVID-19 patients and 13 PUIs.
Duque said the Quezon Institute, which is the country’s first community quarantine facility, will be open to PUIs and mild COVID-19 cases by Monday.
The health official also reported that the initial batch of 15,000 personal protective equipment imported by the Philippine government have been distributed to different hospitals on Thursday: AFP Medical Center received 1,100; the East Avenue Medical Center (EAMC), 770; San Lazaro Hospital, 2,780; the Lung Center, 2,800; the Philippine General Hospital, 2,000; and the Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital (DJNRMH), 2,590.
The remaining 885,000 sets of PPEs are expected to arrive in the country within the month.
Duque also clarified that while Administrative Order no. 27 requires donations to go through the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) for consolidation, groups are allowed to directly donate to hospitals and other health facilities as long as these donations are reported to the OCD.