Cebu starts local testing for COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — Cebu started local testing for the coronavirus disease or COVID-19, following the arrival of 100 test kits from Manila, health officials said this afternoon.

The test kits are currently at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, one of the identified sub-national laboratories in the country for the testing of the viral disease.

According to Department of Health (DOH) Central Visayas director Jaime Bernadas, they were initially promised 2,000 test kits, which was later reduced to 500, but only 100 kits arrived.

Bernadas said that as of Thursday afternoon, around 60 persons under investigation have already been tested for COVID-19.

Cebu has recorded on Wednesday its first COVID-19 patient — a 65-year-old man admitted at Chong Hua Hospital in Mandaue City. Health authorities said he is already recovering.

Cebu Governor Gwendolyn Garcia also earlier imposed border controls in the province, banning the entry of travelers from domestic airports and seaports starting March 17.

More hospitals to test for COVID-19

Meanwhile, Health Assistant Secretary and spokesperson Ma. Rosario Vergeire told CNN Philippines on Tuesday that more hospitals, apart from the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center, will begin testing for COVID-19 this week.

These include the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Benguet, and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

Previously, COVID-19 tests in the country have only been done at the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City, thereby limiting tests to Luzon.

As of March 19, there are 217 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country. Of these, 17 resulted in death, while 7 patients have recovered.