DOH admits woes in COVID-19 testing backlogs

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 02 2020 12:58 AM

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday admitted that it is still seeing difficulties in addressing COVID-19 testing backlogs although it is seeing a continued increase in acredited laboratories. 

During a Palace briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said while laboratories in the country have succeeded in reducing the number of testing backlogs, which are samples not tested within 3 days, from 7,000 to just 500 last week, samples have piled up again.

She said this as Metro Manila and other parts of the country eased up their business and transportation restrictions and transitioned into general community quarantine. 

The health official attributed part of this to a problem in the Western Visayas Medical Center laboratory, which supposedly has a non-working exhaust fan.

The DOH has yet to release its updated figures for testing backlogs.

While the government claimed that the country has a maximum testing capacity of 32,000 tests a day, the actual testing done daily has gone down to fewer than 10,000 due to various problems in laboratories. One was damaged during a typhoon and others had their operations halted due to building problems.

The test results recorded on Sunday came from only 15 laboratories.

Vergeire said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III has already ordered the rest of the laboratories to submit their data “at once.”

Also on Monday, the DOH reported that the number of its accredited COVID-19 testing laboratories has increased to 49.

Added to the list, based on the DOH situationer, is Safeguard DNA Diagnostics, a private laboratory in Mandaluyong.

This brings the number of laboratories doing PCR (polymerase chain reaction) testing to 38. On top of that are 11 GenExpert Laboratories, which uses a faster type of PCR-based testing.

Below is the list of accredited COVID-19 laboratories in the country as of June 1:

LUZON:

NCR
* Research Institute for Tropical Medicine
* San Lazaro Hospital
* UP National Institutes of Health
* Lung Center of the Philippines
* St. Luke's Medical Center- QC
* The Medical City - Ortigas
* Victoriano Luna -AFRIMS
* Detoxicare Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory
* St. Luke's Medical Center - BGC
* Makati Medical Center
* Philippine Red Cross
* Chinese Gen. Hospital
* PRC-PLMC
* Philippine Genome Center UP-Diliman
* Marikina Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory
* UP-PGH Molecular Laboratory
* Singapore Diagnostic, Inc.
* Asian Hospital & Medical Center
* Hi-Precision - QC
* Tropical Disease Foundation
* PNP Crime Laboratory
* National Kidney and Transplant Institute 
* Safeguard DNA Diagnostics

CAR
* Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center

Region I
* Ilocos Training Regional Medical Center

Region III
* J.B. Lingad Memorial Hospital

Region IV-A
* De La Salle University - Cavite
* Lucena United Doctors Hospital and Medical Center

Region V
* Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory

VISAYAS

Region VI
* Western Visayas Medical Center

Region VII
* Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center
* Allegiant Regional Care Hospital
* Cebu TB Reference Laboratory

Region VIII
* Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center

* Divine Word Hospital

MINDANAO 

Region IX
* Zamboanga City Medical Center - DA Satellite Lab

Region XI
* Davao One World Diagnostic Center Incorporated
* Southern Visayas Regional Medical Center

GENEXPERT LABORATORIES

* Cagayan Valley CHD TB Reference Laboratory
* Bataan General Hospital
* Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital & Sanitarium (TALA)
* Lung Center of the Philippines 
* Tondo Medical Center
* Ospital ng Palawan 
* Bicol Medical Center
* Zamboanga City Medical Center
* Northern Mindanao Medical Center 
* Davao Regional Medical Center
* Cotabato Regional Medical Center