Marikina finds new location for planned COVID-19 testing center

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 30) — Marikina City has identified a two-storey building that will house a local COVID-19 testing center, days after the Department of Health turned down its original proposal.

Mayor Marcelino Teodoro announced Monday that a building along Bayan-Bayanan Avenue in Barangay Concepcion Uno has been chosen as the new site for the city's own laboratory for coronavirus testing, taking into account DOH recommendations given last week.

Health authorities rejected the city's plan to set up the testing laboratory either on the sixth floor of the Marikina City Health Office or inside the state-run Amang Rodriguez Memorial Medical Center, saying these locations did not pass space and biosafety standards.

Teodoro said the newly-built structure has a floor area of 160 square meters, and is set to be completed in two weeks. The building is a free-standing structure in a not-so populated area in the city, with no other offices sharing the space, he added.

DOH Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire has said that a mixed-use building could increase the risk of infections, especially if there are lapses in protocol inside the laboratory.

Teodoro said a dedicated ambulance would be on standby for the facility. He added that the city adheres to a risk assessment template for the planned testing center, which includes biohazard measures.

READ: Local governments must coordinate with Health Dept. before buying COVID-19 test kits

The DOH-run Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa conducts the most number of coronavirus tests in a day, while select government-run institutions and private hospitals have also been tapped to test samples in other parts of the country.

Kailangan ma-test ang ating mga kababayan kung may COVID-19 sila para sa ganoon ang kinakailangang supportive treatment ay maibigay, para sa ganon ay ma-isolate sila at ma-contain — hindi na sila makahawa sa kanilang mahal sa buhay,” Teodoro said in a statement.

[Translation: We need to have our compatriots tested for COVID-19 so that we can provide supportive treatment and so we can isolate them and contain the virus — that way, they won't infect their loved ones.]

The city official earlier said that nearby towns and cities would also be accommodated for testing swab samples.