RITM scales down lab operations as coronavirus infects 43 employees
MANILA, Philippines — The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has scaled down its laboratory operations after 43 employees staff were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).
This is to make way for the checkup and testing of all hospital personnel as well as the decontamination of its facilities. The downsizing of operations is expected to last until Friday, the RITM said in a statement on Tuesday.
RITM Director Celia Carlos, however, assured that only laboratories are affected as other hospital operations shall “remain in full swing.”
“Our primary concern right now is employee welfare. We will only be able to provide the best possible care and service if the safety of our people is assured,” Carlos said in a statement.
“We have been at the frontlines since January, it’s high time we look out for our own,” she added.
The Department of Health (DOH) has prescribed a “temporary zoning system” for the referral of specimens to the 17 testing centers for COVID-19.
Swabs from the cities of Muntinlupa, Parañaque, Las Piñas and Pasay, however, will still be accommodated by RITM.
Carlos admitted that RITM’s testing capacity for COVID-19 was impaired after some of its personnel got infected.
Around 5,000 specimens for COVID-19 confirmation are now backlogged in the hospital’s laboratories due to the reduced manpower, she added.
“With the decreased number of available staff and the large volume of specimens received by RITM before today, the turnaround time for our testing has been prolonged to more than five days,” the RITM director said.
The RITM management, however, is optimistic that the backlog will be cleared by the end of April as the number of specimens to be shipped to the hospital for COVID-19 confirmation will be reduced in the coming days.
“We promise that this laboratory slowdown is temporary. We promise that we will come out of this challenge 100% ready and committed to continuously fulfill our mandate to serve the Filipino nation for the duration of this outbreak response,” Carlos said.
The index patient in RITM is an encoder who contracted the new coronavirus from his community, the hospital management said.
The high-risk individuals have been identified and were first to receive intervention.
As of Tuesday, 790 of the hospital’s workforce have already been swabbed. Test results are pending.
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