By Nino Luces
LEGAZPI CITY, Albay – The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing machine in Bicol region has sustained damage during the onslaught of Typhoon Ambo (international name Vongfong), the Department of Health (DOH) regional office here announced on Friday night.
DOH Bicol Director Dr. Ernie Vera said the exhaust duct of the biosafety cabinet of the laboratory was damaged by the typhoon, causing its operation to stop starting Saturday.
“The Department of Health Center for Health Development – Bicol would like to inform the public that the Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory (BRDRL) will temporarily stop operations starting tomorrow, May 16, 2020. The exhaust duct of the biosafety cabinet of the laboratory was damaged by Typhoon Ambo,” Vera said.
He explained that the biosafety cabinet where the samples are processed for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT- PCR) testing.
“Samples cannot be processed until the exhaust duct is fixed. Thus, the BRDRL will not accept samples at this time until further notice,” he said.
With this, the 146 remaining samples that have not yet been tested will be transferred to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Manila.
“The 146 remaining samples that were not tested yesterday due to the fluctuating current brought about by Typhoon Ambo which might cause damage to the machine, will be re-routed to RITM for testing. The results of the same shall be posted as soon as available. This is to ensure that all samples are tested within the allowable life span of the specimen,” Vera added.
On the other hand, Vera appealed for cooperation, understanding and patience from the public as the DOH was already looking for ways to fix the problem as soon as possible, and come up with other measures to ensure uninterrupted testing for COVID-19.