In collaboration with the Marikina and Taguig city governments, the Department of Health (DOH) has officially accredited two additional testing facilities, the Marikina Molecular Laboratory and Bonifacio Global City’s (BGC) second drive-thru facility, to bolster the nation’s testing capacity.

In Monday’s virtual press conference, Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Vergeire announced that the two facilities successfully met the World Health Organization’s (WHO) biosafety standards for the working environment and personnel training.

“Ang DOH at RITM po ay patuloy na nakikipagugnayan sa Marikina City LGU at CHO upang suportahan ang kanilang operasyon at mas mapalawig pa ang kanilang testing capacity,” said Vergeire as she reiterated the importance of taking great care when granting a facility, a license to operate. The Marikina laboratory is capable of processing up to 400 tests a day.

Vergeire also noted, “Ang Taguig City LGU din naman po ay patuloy na nilalampasan ang ating expectations sa pagpapahusay ng testing capacity.

“Ang mga pasilidad po na ito ay gumagamit ng gold standard RT-PCR testing na nananatiling pangunahing pamantayan ng DOH sa pagdiagnose ng COVID-19,” she added. “Bukod pa dito, ang mga staff na tumatao sa mga pasilidad na ito ay ating isinailalim sa pagsasanay upang maabot ang standards ng WHO sa pagpapatakbo ng isang testing center.”

According to the DOH Spokesperson, as of May 2 the country has been able to do up to 5,264 tests per day.

She further noted that reaching a target capacity of 30,000 tests per day by the end of May is achievable through the collaborative efforts from both the public and private sector.

As concerns over a controlled lift of the lockdown continue to be discussed, the DOH reiterates that the early detection and isolation of new COVID-19 cases is critical in managing potential outbreaks, so that the healthcare system does not get overwhelmed.

This makes testing all the more vital, and with the country well on its way to achieving the desired capacity, the DOH now looks to increasing the personnel that manage the data. By mass-hiring more encoders, the flow of information to the public will become quicker and more reliable.

Undersecretary Vergeire said in a previous interview that the DOH has the opportunity to start testing more people because their capacity exceeds the amount of samples coming in. The Undersecretary also called for more “heroes” to help national efforts to beat COVID-19.