By Hanah Tabios
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the use of test kits developed by Filipino scientists to aid in the immediate diagnosis of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the country.
The test kits were developed by local experts at the University of the Philippines-National Institute of Health (UPNIH), and funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST).
“The increasing number of reported COVID-19 cases will require immediate diagnosis and monitoring. This will provide our laboratories with technological reinforcement to accommodate the growing number of patients to be tested and aid in early screening of positive cases,” FDA Director General Rolando Enrique Domingo said in a statement released Tuesday.
The approval came after the Department of Health (DOH) raised a Code Red sub-level 1 alert, following the first reported localized transmission of COVID-19 in the country. President Rodrigo Duterte also declared a State of Public Health Emergency amid the rise of coronavirus cases on Monday.
Domingo said the technology will be used for field testing, coupled with gene sequencing at the Philippine Genome Center, which could provide greater access to a less costly diagnostic procedure.
“The FDA maintains its mandate in ensuring the safety and efficacy of products and devices to protect public health, and commits to cooperate with all agencies in ensuring a prompt response to this global crisis,” he added.
As of late Monday, the number of coronavirus cases in the country has jumped to 24.
President Duterte also ordered a week-long suspension of classes at the National Capital Region (NCR) as a measure to prevent the spread of the virus.