MANILA (UPDATE) - Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro on Tuesday urged government to treat the city as a partner in expanding the country's capability for testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
The city government has set up a P3.8-million molecular laboratory with the help of the University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (UPNIH), Teodoro said.
Members of the Department of Health (DOH), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on Monday conducted training and assessment on the laboratory, the mayor added.
"Ang feeling ko we're treated as an applicant for a license to operate. Sabi ko sa kanila they should not treat us as an applicant, kundi partner sana na local government kasi crisis situation (ito), public health emergency," Teodoro told radio DZMM.
(I feel like we’re treated as an applicant for a license to operate. I told them they should not treat us as an applicant, but as a local government that's a partner because this is a crisis situation, a public health emergency.)
The laboratory has to be accredited by the DOH before it conducts COVID-19 testing, according to Health Undersecretary Eric Domingo, as the agency earlier warned the virus is a biosafety hazard.
"Ang mungkahi natin is tulungan, bigyan ng technical assistance itong laboratory sa Marikina para magamit. Sa ngayon po talagang kailangan natin ng testing center dahil available na po ang testing kits dito," he said.
(We aim to help and give technical assistance to the laboratory in Marikina so it can be used. We really need a testing center because testing kits are now available here.)
There are some 212 persons under monitoring for suspected infection of the virus, Teodoro said as he emphasized the importance of testing.
"Kung ito po ay na-contact trace mo, kailangan ma-test mo para mabigay mo 'yung supportive treatment na kailangan. At kung positive po siya, ma-isolate na po siya para maiwasan iyong transmission," he said.
(If you have contact-traced a person, you should test him so you can give the supportive treatment needed. If he's positive, you can isolate him to avoid transmission.)
"Ang nangyayari ngayon, COVID-positive na, namatay na 'yung pasyente hindi pa natetest eh. Kaya mahalaga 'yung testing para sa’min, 'yung access ng ordinaryong Pilipino hindi 'yung mga may kaya."
(What's happening is a person who's COVID-positive, who has already died, was not even tested. This is why testing is important to us, the access of ordinary Filipinos, not the well-to-do.)
In a separate interview, Teodoro said the facility was equipped with a polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine and other equipment used to test COVID-19 cases.
"Based on their assessment yesterday, it's within the standard according to them... actually all the equipment that we will be needing to operate for the testing center are already in place," he told ANC.
The laboratory, which can analyze nearly 100 tests per day, can also help diagnose COVID-19 cases in nearby municipalities, the mayor said.
The city, which is home to half a million people, has so far recorded 10 cases of the novel coronavirus.
Teodoro said they would also be putting up a quarantine facility to patients exhibiting flu-like symptoms.
"We're taking what the WHO has advised an agency, LGU to take a rather offensive strategy against COVID-19," he said.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the Philippines has tallied 552 COVID-19 cases, with 35 fatalities and 20 recoveries.