ADB-funded Pampanga lab to boost COVID-19 testing capacity

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 09 2020 02:24 PM

MANILA – The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday authorized a laboratory in Pampanga to conduct COVID-19 tests in a bid to scale up the country’s testing capacity.

The Pandemic Sub-National Reference Laboratory at the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital (JBLMRH) in San Fernando City eyes to conduct 3,000 daily tests, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said.

“I’d like to announce that the license to operate for this particular laboratory has been issued… We can operate today,” he said during the launching of the facility.

The molecular and diagnostic pathology laboratory is funded by a $3-million grant from the Asian Development Bank’s Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund.

“This state-of-the-art facility is part of the government’s strategy to increase the number of laboratories across the country and significantly boost its COVID-19 testing capacity to flatten the pandemic curve and save lives,” ADB Vice-President Ahmed M. Saeed said in a statement.

The Manila-based lender is also working with the DOH on a $125-million project to supplement operations of the laboratory and support the government’s response to the crisis.

As the country ramps up testing with the opening of a new COVID-19 laboratory, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles expressed optimism the Philippines could overcome the crisis.

“If we’re successful in swabbing and testing, we will be able to slowly open up the economy,” he said in remarks at the event.

Hospital staff trained by the Beijing Genomics Institute will supervise the tests.

Dr. Monserrat Chichioco, Medical Center Chief II of JBLMRH, said the hospital was hiring medical personnel so it could go on 24-hour operation and accomplish its goal of 3,000 tests per day.

As of Friday, the Philippines has recorded 10,463 cases of the novel coronavirus. The tally includes 696 who succumbed to the disease and 1,734 who recovered from COVID-19. – With a report from Trisha Mostoles, ABS-CBN News