We Now Have Seven COVID-19 Testing Centers; 63 More to Come

Check out how the DOH accredits the laboratories for testing.

(SPOT.ph) The Philippines now has seven laboratories fully accredited for COVID-19 testing by the Department of Health. The Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City is the latest addition as of April 1 while 63 more facilities nationwide are going through the process set by the Department of Health (DOH) before they can be declared capable of conducting tests for the highly infectious COVID-19 virus. 

Based on the DOH's official list, four of the laboratories are in Metro Manila, while Northern Luzon, Visayas, and Mindanao have one facility each. Check out the list below:

  • Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM, Muntinlupa City)
  • San Lazaro Hospital (City of Manila)
  • University of the Philippines National Institutes of Health (City of Manila)
  • Lung Center of the Philippines (Quezon City)
  • Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (Baguio City)
  • Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (Cebu City)
  • Southern Philippines Medical Center (Davao City)

At least 60 more facilities are awaiting full accreditation from the DOH—22 of which are within Metro Manila. The DOH has listed five steps for these laboratories before they can be certified:

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  • Stage 1: Self-Assessment - The laboratory must check if their facility is up to the DOH standard, including access, design, safety equipment, administrative rules, records, and personnel training
  • Stage 2: Validation - A site check will be conducted by a team from the DOH, RITM, and the World Health Organization
  • Stage 3: Personnel Training - Laboratory personnel will undergo three days of training at RITM
  • Stage 4: Proficiency Testing -  The laboratory may already accept COVID-19 samples at this stage, after having done a "practice" test on five samples initially confirmed positive by the RITM
  • Stage 5: Full Scale Implementation - After the RITM confirms their "practice" test correct, the laboratory is certified for full-scale testing of COVID-19 samples
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Out of the 63 labs waiting to be certified, only six have made it to the fourth stage as of writing. It may seem like a long process, but it should be worth it as enhanced testing capabilities are "one step closer in putting an end to COVID-19," said the DOH online.

Mass testing and contact tracing are two major factors in containing the spread of the disease, said Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., who is also the chief implementer of the National Action Plan against COVID-19, in an Inquirer.net report. These testing centers could help identify and isolate carriers. Fingers crossed more are certified soon!

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