$2.5M lab equipment from ADB to be set up in Region III

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 23 2020 01:17 PM

$2.5 million worth of laboratory equipment and 45,000 test kits funded by the Asian Development Bank arrive at the Clark International Airport. Photo courtesy of the Bases Conversion and Development Authority

3,000 COVID-19 tests to be processed daily by May

MANILA — The Department of Health on Thursday said it expects the Asian Development Bank-funded laboratory equipment to be able to run at least 3,000 COVID-19 tests daily by May.

“Ito po ay ilalagay sa ating Region 3 Jose B. Lingad hospital,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a video conference with journalists on Thursday morning.

(We will place this in our Region 3 Jose B. Lingad Hospital.)

The Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital in San Fernando City, Pampanga is near the New Clark City in neighboring Tarlac province where repatriates were quarantined at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Bases Conversion and Development Authority earlier announced the arrival of the $2.5-million laboratory equipment from China.

The ADB shipment, which arrived at the Clark International Airport on Wednesday morning, also included 45,000 test kits developed by a Chinese genome sequencing company.

“Ang usapan sa project na ito, in 10 to 14 days, tapos ang pagse-set up nitong mga makina na ito. Proseso, pati proseso ia-ayos na,” Vergeire said.

“Hopefully, pagdating ng first week of May, maaari na nating gamitin.”

(What we discussed is that in 10 to 14 days the set-up of the machines would be done. Even the processing. Hopefully by the first week of May we can use it.)

Vergeire said the laboratory is expected to process 3,000 to 5,000 tests a day.

This would help the country’s enhanced testing efforts as it aims to reach 8,000 tests daily by end of April, and more than that after the month. 

Currently, the number of tests processed in the country dipped as the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine was forced to scale down its operations because of its disinfection operations.

Vergeire said that once the laboratory is operational, the DOH will not have to worry about the testing capacity in Region III.

“Pati ang mga karatig pook ay masasagot na para ma-unload naman tayo dito sa Metro Manila. Mas bibilis ang turnaround time at mas makakatanggap tayo ng mas marami pang test dito sa laboratoryo natin dito sa Metro Manila,” she explained.

(Even the nearby areas there can be covered, so that laboratories in Metro Manila would be unloaded. Our turnaround time will increase and we will be able to accommodate more tests in our Metro Manila laboratories.)

The BCDA said that the Beijing Genome Institute (BGI), which developed the test kits, will assign its own full-time staff to assist in the set-up of the laboratory.

“BGI personnel will also help in staff training, in commissioning the facility, and in providing technical support during the laboratory’s first week of operations,” BCDA said.

The Jose B. Lingad Memorial General Hospital is currently on the 3rd stage of the 5-step accreditation process for COVID-19 laboratories.

Its personnel are still undergoing training with the RITM.

“The proficiency testing of the equipment and kits on COVID 19 laboratory samples is expected to be conducted on May 2 to 10,” the BCDA said, citing the DOH.

The laboratory is expected to run on full capacity by May 16.

Vergeire said the ADB project is also in partnership with several private sector groups.