Task force orders DOH to hasten Marikina City's COVID-19 testing center accreditation, says mayor

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 16) – Marikina City Mayor Marcy Teodoro clarified on Thursday their local COVID-19 testing center is still awaiting accreditation.

In an interview with CNN Philippines’ Ruth Cabal, Teodoro said the Department of Health is still in the process of expediting the accreditation of the city’s testing center.

DOH Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire also confirmed it.

“The testing center is not licensed yet but we are working with them for immediate compliance so they can open soon,” said Vergeire.

Teodoro assured the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases backed the local testing laboratory, located inside a new two-storey building in Barangay Concepcion Uno and can process up to 400 samples daily.

He added that during their teleconference meeting with the IATF-EID yesterday, the task force instructed the DOH to hasten the accreditation of the city’s COVID-19 testing laboratory.

“We expect to have the accreditation by Monday or Tuesday,” said Teodoro, who guaranteed the local testing laboratory will be fully operational by next week.

The Marikina mayor also emphasized that all polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines and biosafety cabinets in their local testing center are already installed and calibrated. The laboratory layout, workflow procedures, and standard operating procedures are also in place.

Teodoro stood firm on opening the facility even without the DOH's green light. He admitted to CNN Philippines he would be breaking the law, but said he is ready to face charges since he can no longer put off mass testing for Marikina residents.

The city has recorded 72 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Thursday afternoon. Of this number, 18 have died, seven have recovered, while 22 are suspected of coronavirus infection and have yet to be tested.

In March, Marikina set up its testing laboratory at the sixth floor of the City Health Office, but the DOH said it should be in a different location to comply with guidelines on biosafety.

Two dedicated ambulance units will be picking up samples from hospitals and testing centers for delivery to the laboratory. A molecular pathologist will always be on duty to run the tests.