Biggest COVID-19 swabbing center to open on Monday

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CNN Philippines (Metro Manila, May 8) — The country will open its biggest swab collecting center for coronavirus tests at the SM Mall of Asia (MOA) Arena in Pasay City on Monday, Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque said Friday.

The arena has 72 testing booths which will add up to 1,500 tests to the country's daily testing capacity.

“Having swabbing sites this big is really important in our fight against COVID-19," said Duque. "[W]e are assured that we have enough facilities to test our returning overseas Filipinos, and later on, those in their respective communities as we help their local government."

Health personnel hired by the DOH and medical staff of the Philippine National Police will be manning the arena's testing booths.

However, Duque said the increase in specimen collection capacity must correspond with the expansion of the country's laboratory processing capacity. He added that the health department is fast-tracking the accreditation of at least 61 laboratories nationwide.

The MOA Arena facility is one of four ‘mega swabbing’ centers the government had set up in line with its ‘Test, Trace and Treat’ strategy. The other three are the Enderun Tent in Taguig City, the Philippine Sports Stadium in Bulacan, and the Palacio de Maynila in Roxas Boulevard, Manila, which started operating on May 7.

The government estimates 5,000 tests per day from the four swabbing centers will be added to the country’s testing capacity once they are fully operational, according to the Bases Conversion and Development Authority (BCDA).