MANILA – The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) will install around 132 sample specimen collecting booths all throughout the country to improve the country’s testing capacity for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) infections.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said the establishment of the specimen collection booths was intended to complement the 16 Covid-19 testing centers nationwide that have been accredited by the Department of Health (DOH).
Nograles, spokesperson of the Inter-Ageny Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID), said DOST’s regional offices will partner with DOH in setting up the sample collecting booths in the country.
“As the IATF repeatedly stresses, improving our testing capabilities is one of the government’s top priorities,” he said in a virtual press conference aired on state-run PTV-4. “The DOST plans to set up at least 132 specimen collection booths in different regions nationwide… It will set up sample collecting booths nationwide to facilitate the government’s expanded testing efforts.”
On a Facebook post, DOST Secretary Fortunato dela Peña announced that around 34 specimen collection booths will be set up in Metro Manila.
Dela Peña said other collecting booths will be established in Zamboanga Peninsula (10), Central Luzon (8), and Central Visayas (7).
He added that there will be six sample collecting booths each in Cordillera Administrative Region, Ilocos Region, Cagayan Valley, and Western Visayas.
Bicol Region and Nothern Mindanao will have five collection booths each, while Calabarzon, Davao Region, and Caraga Region will have four specimen collecting booths, Dela Peña said.
Dela Peña said three specimen collection booths will be set up each in Eastern Visayas and Soccksksargen, while two booths will be installed in Mimaropa.
“Aming ilalabas ang mga karagdagan detalye ng mga napiling pasilidad na mapagkalooban ng mga collection booths sa mga susunod na araw (We will release in the coming days the additional information about the facilities that will have collection booths),” he said.
The Philippines currently has DOH-accredited 16 testing centers that can check possible Covid-19 infections.
Metro Manila’s accredited testing laboratories are UP National Institutes of Health and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila; Philippine Red Cross and Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory in Mandaluyong; Lung Center of the Philippines, St. Luke’s Medical Center and Victoriano Luna Hospital in Quezon City; The Medical City in Pasig; Makati Medical Center; St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig; and Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa.
Other authorized testing centers outside of Metro Manila are Baguio General hospital and Medical Center; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu; Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao; Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo; and the Bicol Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory in Legazpi City.
Nograles said more testing laboratories will soon be operational, once they get certification from DOH.
He added that the IATF-EID supports the accreditation of all testing laboratories, including the one being established in Marikina City.
“As a general rule, the IATF fully supports the establishment and accreditation of all testing laboratories in the Philippines that will help us increase our testing capabilities and capacities. Necessarily, kasama na po diyan yung Marikina (it includes the one set up in Marikina),” Nograles said.
Marikina City is setting up its own Covid-19 testing facility even sans the accreditation from DOH.
Nograles, however, noted that the accreditation for Marikina City’s testing center for Covid-19 is being expedited.
“Kaunti na lang at ma-accredit na sila (They will soon get the accreditation),” he said. (PNA)