By Martin Sadongdong
The Philippines has now identified 15 accredited testing facilities for coronavirus disease (COVID-19), a key move which could aid the government in identifying virus-carriers.
National Task Force COVID-19 chief implementer Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr. said on Sunday night that this will be a big boost in the capability of the Department of Health (DOH) in processing COVID-19 test kits.
“Ang mga pasilidad na ito ay makakatulong upang mapabilis at mapalawak ang ating kakayanan na makapag-test at mag-identify ng COVID-19 patients upang sila ay mabigyan ng karampatang medical treatment (These facilities will make the testing and identifying of COVID-19 patients quicker so we can give them the necessary medical treatment),” he said in a virtual briefing.
Among the newly accredited testing centers were St. Luke’s Medical Center Global in Quezon City, V. Luna Hospital, The Medical City in Pasig City, Makati Medical Center, and Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory in Mandaluyong City.
The health department earlier accredited 10 testing centers including the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), San Lazaro Hospital, UP National Institutes of Health, Lung Center of the Philippines, Baguio General Hospital, Medical Center Baguio, Western Visayas Medical Center, Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, Southern Philippines Medical Center, and Bicol Public Health Laboratory.
Last week, Galvez said the RITM in Muntinlupa City, the country’s primary COVID-19 testing center, was looking to process about 10,000 COVID-19 tests per day in the next three months as it planned to distribute 900,000 test kits to accredited laboratories nationwide.
As the number of testing centers increases, so is the need for quarantine facilities where “suspected” and “probable” cases will be housed as they undergo isolation.
According to the DOH, a suspected case is a person under investigation (PUI) with mild, severe or critical condition but has not yet been tested. Meanwhile, a probable case is a PUI with mild, severe or critical condition with no definite test results yet.
Galvez said there were 2,673 quarantine facilities across the country with a combined 165,756 bed capacity. Accommodated in these facilities were 645 probable and 919 suspected COVID-19 cases, he added.
Among the quarantine facilities is the Ninoy Aquino Stadium at the Rizal Memorial Sports Complex in Manila which, Galvez said, went full operational today, April 13. He said it can accommodate 112 patients.
Meanwhile, the task force chief implementer said six more mass quarantine facilities that can house up to 2,000 patients are expected to be operational this week while nine more facilities will be established in the coming weeks.
This is aside from the four COVID-19 referral hospitals with a combined 830 bed capacity, Galvez said.
The four COVID-19 referral hospitals are the Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City, Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City, and Pasig City Children’s Hospital.
“Ang pagtatayo ng quarantine facilities ay kinakailangan sa bawat lungsod at bayan ng buong bansa upang matugunan ang pangangailangan nito sa lalong madaling panahon. (There is a need to build quarantine facilities in every city and town across the country to address the need for such as soon as possible),” Galvez said.