1 COVID testing lab suspended, 4 others to possibly follow for failure to report results on time

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 04 2021 12:42 PM

Video courtesy of DOH

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said it has already suspended a laboratory for repeatedly failing to submit the results of its COVID-19 tests on time.

“We were able to suspend the license of one of the big laboratories last December 29 because of its continuous non-compliance to our reportorial requirement,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.

Vergeire withheld the name of the laboratory pending the advice of the DOH legal department.

She said 4 other laboratories also face possible suspension for the same reason. 

In the past months, the DOH has been reporting the number of laboratories that have failed to submit their data on time. The delay in reporting usually causes a lower number of confirmed cases reported in the day.

In August last year, the DOH said delinquent laboratories will face sanctions under Republic Act no. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Concern Act.

Among the prohibited acts in RA 11332 is the non-operation of the disease surveillance and response systems, and the non-cooperation of persons and entities that should report and/or respond to notifiable diseases or health events of public concern.

Penalties include a fine of P20,000 to P50,000, or imprisonment of 1 month to 6 months.

“In addition, the business permit and license to operate of the concerned facility, institution, agency, corporation, school or legal entity shall be cancelled,” the law states.

Vergeire said they have been issuing warnings and “unfortunately there are non-compliant facilities.”

During the holidays, test results dropped to around 22,000 daily from an average of 36,000 before, resulting in a daily tally of COVID-19 cases below the usual level.

Vergeire said this is due to some laboratories closed during the holidays and the “health-seeking behavior” of Filipinos. She said Filipinos might delay being tested because of the holidays.