The Department of Health (DOH) today warns the public that test laboratories without appropriate certifications will expose more people to undue harm.

“The COVID-19 virus is highly contagious. That is the reason why we need a Biosafety Level 2 facility, laboratory technologists trained on biosafety and PCR procedures, regularly calibrated equipment and instruments, and a well-established protocol on the quality assurance of test results, if we are to conduct tests,” Health OIC-Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained during the DOH’s daily Beat COVID-19 Virtual Presser.

According to OIC USec. Vergeire, the DOH understands that everyone wants to have a faster testing process, but this should not be at the expense of compliance with protocols set to protect our citizens from harm, referring to the earlier pronouncement of the City Government of Marikina that it will operate its own testing laboratory even without DOH approval.

The DOH Spokesperson also refuted the allegation that DOH is not supportive of the City Government’s efforts. “This is not true. We want Marikina to succeed. So much so that since the beginning of their application for accreditation, the Department has provided the necessary technical assistance,” Vergeire explained. 

The facility is in stage 3 of a 5-stage accreditation process. Last April 2, the City Government committed to finishing the requirements in two weeks. On today’s assessment by a team of DOH and RITM staff, it was found that while there was a physical facility ready, the biosafety equipment remained uninstalled and its personnel untrained to operate them.

The DOH also advised the City Government of Marikina to enroll their laboratory technicians in the online course offered by UP-National Institutes of Health and scheduled their practical/hands-on training on biosafety with RITM on Monday.

In addition, the DOH Spokesperson recommended that in the meantime,  the City Government may also send its swab samples to its 15 laboratories, most of which are in Metro Manila. 

“Hindi po nangigipit ang DOH, kami po ay kaalyado nyo sa laban na ito.”

The Department explained that the laboratory and biosafety process ensures protection and is not a hurdle for any local government unit’s testing capability. “The DOH is your ally in this COVID19 battle. It is imperative that we abide by our scientific processes to secure the safety of our fellow Filipinos in Marikina City,” USec. Vergeire concluded.