MANILA, Philippines — Nurses and other medical frontliners who are considered as persons under investigation (PUIs) should be tested for coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19, Sen. Bong Go said on Monday.
“Let us give consideration to the nurses who are PUIs given their critical role in defeating COVID-19. We should look after them because they are the ones taking care of the patients,” Go, who chairs the Senate committee on health and demography, said.
“They are at high risk of contracting the virus because they are exposed to COVID-19 patients. We need to know if they are negative or positive for the disease to avoid unnecessary quarantine. We need as many nurses as we can get right now,” he added.
Go backed the call of Philippine Nurses Association national president Rosie de Leon to prioritize nurses in COVID testing.
He also reiterated his call for the Department of Health (DOH) to accredit more laboratories to perform COVID-19 testing and for the Food and Drug Administration to hasten the process of approving applications of testing kits.
To speed up the testing for coronavirus, the DOH is looking to accredit 49 facilities and laboratories as COVID-19 testing centers, DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday.
Duque said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), which is the country’s primary referral center for COVID-19, is screening the capability of the laboratories to do the testing.
“One of the DOH’s strategies to combat COVID-19 is to enhance and expand our country’s testing capabilities,” he said.
Of the number, only the Lung Center of the Philippines (LCP) passed Stage 4 (proficiency testing) out of the five-stage accreditation steps of the DOH.
This means that the LCP laboratory may accept COVID-19 samples, but will need to test five positive samples as confirmed by RITM before proceeding to a full scale implementation.
Five facilities are in Stage 3 (personnel training), which means that their personnel who will operate the laboratory will have to undergo a special three-day training at the RITM.
These are Western Visayas Medical Center, Bicol Public Health Laboratory, Victoriano Luna Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center-BGC and St. Luke’s Medical Center-QC.
Thirteen facilities are in Stage 2 (validation). This means that a team from the DOH, RITM and World Health Organization will conduct on-site visits to check the correctness of their self-assessment and inform the laboratories of their deficiencies.
These are Makati Medical Center, Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center, National Kidney and Transplant Institute, Philippine Genome Center (UP Diliman), Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital, Governor Celestino Gallares Memorial Medical Center, Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory, Cotabato Regional Medical Center, The Medical City, Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, Marikina City health office, Chinese General Hospital and American Bio-Clinical Laboratories International.
RITM director Celia Carlos assured the public that they are implementing the “first-in, first-out” policy in testing samples sent to the facility.
“We do not screen who should undergo testing or not. It is within the discretion of the attending doctor to order the test,” Carlos said.
The field validation of the test kits developed by Filipino scientists will be completed today, according to Science Secretary Fortunato dela Peña.
Dela Peña said the Food and Drug Administration is expected to issue a certificate of product registration on Friday for the locally developed test kits for COVID-19.
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