Bicol facility halts coronavirus tests due to storm-damaged equipment

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(CNN Philippines, May 16) — A facility in Bicol temporarily halted testing coronavirus samples after a typhoon damaged its laboratory equipment, a regional health official said Friday.

Ernie Vera, Department of Health-Bicol director, said in a statement that the Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory “will not accept samples at this time until further notice.”

Vera said the exhaust duct of the biosafety cabinet, which is a vital machine for COVID-19 testing, was destroyed in the aftermath of tropical storm Ambo.

“Samples cannot be processed until the exhaust duct is fixed,” he added.

He said 146 specimens will be sent to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa City.

“This is to ensure that all samples are tested within the allowable life span of the specimen,” Vera added.

The official said they are “finding measures to fix the problem as soon as possible.”

Stringer Rosas Olarte contributed to this report