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

Mayor Marcy Teodoro of Marikina City yesterday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to allow his government to operate its own COVID-19 testing lab.

In a statement posted to the city’s public information Facebook page yesterday, Teodoro said that the DOH should think of Marikina City as a partner in its campaign in combating the potentially deadly disease.

“DOH should not treat Marikina as a client applying for a license to operate a laboratory like this, instead it should be [seen as] a partnership. This is a whole of government approach where people should help each other, both the local and national government. Whatever gaps the national government has, the local government can fulfill it,” Teodoro said.

“We should make these test kits commercially available for all. We should be able to ensure that testing is ‘democratize[d],’ open access to all Filipinos, especially to the poor who could not afford to go to a private hospital,” he added.

The talk of wanting to “democratize” testing for the poor by making tests “commercially available” may seem somewhat incongruous for Marikina City, which is well known for being one of Metro Manila’s wealthier enclaves. Also, the fact that most tests cost well over US$100 would put them out of reach for most of the city’s poor.

The mayor added that the testing lab could also service residents of nearby areas, such as those from Pasig City and Rizal province.

Teodoro told radio station DZBB in an interview that the DOH evaluated their laboratory yesterday, but has yet to send them an assessment report. Marikina City had wanted to start testing yesterday, but the DOH’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, which oversees the government’s anti-COVID-19 campaign, told them they have to seek approval first.

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.

The DOH has said there is no such thing as “VIP testing,” but admitted that “courtesy” is extended to some officials “holding positions of national security and public health.”

This article, Marikina City urges Health Department to approve its COVID-19 testing lab, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!