MOA Arena converted to mega swab center; 1,000 tests per day eyed

Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 08 2020 05:11 PM

MOA Arena converted to mega swab center; 1,000 tests per day eyed 1
The mega swabbing center at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, with an estimated swabbing capacity of 1,000 to 1,500 individuals a day, May 8, 2020. Vivienne Gulla, ABS-CBN News

MANILA- What used to house concerts and huge events has become the Philippine capital region's third mega swabbing center, as the government chased its coronavirus disease (COVID-19) testing target.

The swabbing facility at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City, which was inspected by government officials Friday, has 72 test booths, and a capacity to swab an estimated 1,000 to 1,500 individuals a day. It will be operational on Monday and will get samples mostly from repatriated Filipino workers, for now. 

The Philippine National Police will manage its operations. 

“This is an important component of the laboratory testing capacity. Aanhin ang laboratory kung kulang ka naman sa swabbing sites?” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said, as he thanked conglomerates for partnering with the government in putting up the swabbing site.

(What will we do with laboratories if we don't have enough swabbing sites?)

More than 300 personnel, including medical and lab technicians, encoders, and barcoders will be needed to man the facility every day.

The PNP, the Department of Health, and other government agencies committed to supply manpower for the swabbing site. 

Duque also noted that the Department of Budget and Management has approved a P4.7 billion funding for additional 15,000 healthcare workers and professionals.

Samples collected at the mega swabbing centers will be processed by the Philippine Red Cross laboratory in Mandaluyong City. 

Vince Dizon, Deputy Chief Implementer of the National Action Plan against COVID-19 said COVID-19 test results are expected within 72 hours.


The mega swabbing center at the Palacio de Maynila Tent along Roxas boulevard began operations Thursday and was able to take samples from 250 OFWs. It has a swabbing capacity of around 1,000 a day. 

The swabbing site at the Enderun Tent McKinley Hill in Taguig City, meanwhile, is expected to begin operations within the week. 

Once the swabbing facility at the Philippine Arena Complex in Bulacan is also completed, all four mega swabbing centers will have a total estimated capacity of around 5,000 individuals a day. 

As of Tuesday, the country’s testing capacity stood at 4,725.

Despite this, PRC Chairman Sen. Richard Gordon said he was confident that Red Cross' testing laboratories can handle thousands of samples collected from the mega swabbing sites.

But he also called for more encoders and barcoders.

“Kakayanin ba ng mga machines? Yes,” Gordon said.

(Can our machines handle it? Yes.)

Since the pandemic started, there have been 10,463 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.