Twenty-one (21) Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) laboratories run by local government units (LGUs) are now operational and serving the needs of their constituents significantly helping improve the country’s overall testing capacity for COVID-19.
Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) Secretary Eduardo M. Año welcomed this development and congratulated the local chief executives for this significant achievement. “Before we only had Marikina City as has having its own LGU-run RT-PCR laboratory. Now we have 21 all over the country and more are on the pipeline. I’m proud of these LGUs for passing the stringent DOH licensing procedure,” he said.
All of the laboratories passed the 5-stage DOH criteria before it received its license to conduct testing.
“Batid po natin na sa community transmission talaga malakas ang hawaan nitong COVID-19. Kaya magandang balita po ito na pinapalakas ng ating mga lokal na pamahalaan ang kanilang kapasidad upang matugunan ang pangangailangan ng taumbayan na matiyak sa kanilang komunidad kung sinu-sino ang dapat matest, mabigyan ng atensyong medikal o i-isolate,” he said.
The DILG Chief said that out of the licensed LGU labs, 14 are located in Luzon, three (3) from Visayas, and Mindanao has four (4) laboratories. There are 20 more LGUs on-going assessment by the DOH. Among these ongoing applications, seven are on Stage 1: Self-assessment & Application while 12 are undergoing Stage 3: Compliance.
There are currently 130 licensed COVID-19 testing laboratories, public and private, across the different regions of the country.
“If we remember, noong March, lahat ng tests natin ay puwede lang magawa sa RITM [Research Institute for Tropical Medicine]. Nasa 400 tests lang ang nagagawa kada araw. Now, we are able to conduct around more than 30,000+ tests daily. This is a significant achievement and the LGUs are a big part of this,” he said.
DILG Undersecretary and Spokesperson Jonathan E. Malaya said that the Philippines has conducted more unique tests of its population than any other South East Asian country. As of September 21, the Philippines has conducted a total of 3,400,019 tests.
“This is of course a welcome development to have our LGUs to actively seek out applications to set up their own testing laboratories in their respective jurisdictions,” said Malaya.
He expressed that despite the majority of reported cases coming from the National Capital Region (NCR), the other regions will not be complacent. Instead, both the public and the private sector, should work together to set up contingencies to address the impact of COVID-19 in their communities.
There are currently 49 testing labs in NCR; six in Ilocos Region; two (2) in Cagayan Valley; 11 in Central Luzon; 12 in Calabarzon; two (2) in Mimaropa; two (2) in Bicol Region; nine (9) labs in Western Visayas; seven (7) in Central Visayas; two (2) in Eastern Visayas; four (4) in Zamboanga Peninsula; six (6) in Northern Mindanao; three (3) in Davao Region; five in (5) Soccsksargen; 3 in Caraga; two (2) in Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); and one (1) in Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).