Health department rejects Marikina COVID-19 testing lab, citing safety issues

The Department of Health (DOH) rejected Marikina City Hall’s proposed COVID-19 testing lab yesterday, saying that it does not adhere to biosafety standards.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer reports that a letter was supposedly sent by the DOH to Marikina Mayor Marcy Teodoro, which said the lab should be located in a separate building to minimize the risk of cross-infection. Marikina originally proposed that the lab be located in its city health office.

The DOH gave Marikina a proposed floor plan and a list of required equipment and personnel to meet biosafety standards, reports Rappler. Teodoro said he will follow the DOH’s requirements.

Read: Marikina City urges Health Department to approve its COVID-19 testing lab

“If this is what the DOH wants, we will do it. We will do this because our countrymen need this, especially the poor, the marginalized sector who cannot access testing,” the mayor said.

In a separate interview with ANC, Teodoro expressed his disappointment with the DOH’s decision.

“It is very unfortunate for us because we’re in a crisis situation. There’s a public health emergency and testing is very important in order to provide supportive treatment for those infected as well as to immediately contain or isolate a person with coronavirus,” he said.

“If we’re going to construct a new building, it will not be easy for the city to construct in a short period of time. But if we’re going to look for a building that is not being used by the city, I think it will be on a shorter period,” he said, and added that they already have two locations in mind.

However, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told ABS-CBN News that they aren’t fully rejecting Marikina’s lab. “We will work with them and help them until they can attain the standards,” she said.

She also thanked Marikina for its project, and added that the DOH’s requirements are “strict to ensure that the virus will not spread to the community, the healthcare workers or laboratory technicians.”

The DOH has said it can now process 1,000 COVID-19 tests in a day, with most being handled by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City, but it has rejected calls to conduct mass testing because it does not have adequate resources. Netizens have been clamoring for wider testing after rumors have swirled that certain politicians are being tested ahead of patients and healthcare workers.

This article, Health department rejects Marikina COVID-19 testing lab, citing safety issues, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!