DOH reports over 12K virus testing backlogs due to ‘overwhelmed’ labs
MANILA, Philippines — The country’s licensed COVID-19 laboratories still have to process a backlog of over 12,000 test results by some testing centers that were “overwhelmed” by the arrival of more specimens due to the expanded testing protocols, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.
In an online media forum, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that aside from the arrival of more specimens, the shortage of laboratory supplies also played a role in the surge in testing backlogs.
“Ang backlogs natin ngayon medyo lumaki, 12,208 testing backlogs. May malaking contributors dito katulad ng mga laboratoryo na kakabukas lang and they got overwhelmed noong dumating ang mga sample sa kanila,” Vergeire said.
(Our backlogs have grown a bit, it’s now at 12,208. There are big contributors here like labs that just opened and they got overwhelmed when the samples came to them.)
“‘Yung iba naman, it is still because of supplies na kailangan natin at ‘yung iba marami kasing samples na dumadating ngayon dahil nag-expand na tayo ng protocol,” she added.
(On the other hand, it is still because of the lack of supplies that we need and also because more samples were coming in as we have expanded the protocol.)
Just last week, the DOH reported that there are only 1,400 remaining backlogs in all the licensed laboratories.
To address this, Vergeire said the agency will implement a “zoning” system to establish a referral network between nearby laboratories.
“Kapag nakita natin na ang isang laboratory ay nagkakaroon na ng problema like backlogs, pwede natin hingin ang tulong ng isang laboratory na malapit sa kaniya para ma-share niya ‘yung burden of these tests that are being processed,” Vergeire said.
(When we see that a laboratory is having problems like backlogs, we can seek the help of a nearby laboratory so that it can share the burden of these tests that are being processed.)
As of July 8, there are currently 80 licensed COVID-19 laboratories nationwide, of which 59 are using polymerase chain reaction facilities while 21 are GeneXpert laboratories.
The turnaround time to get the COVID-19 testing result is 24 to 48 hours for GeneXpert laboratories, and 50 hours for RT-PCR laboratories, the Health official noted.
The average number of tests conducted daily range from 16,000 to 21,000 in the past week.
To date, there are 51,754 COVID-19 cases nationwide including 12,813 recoveries and 1,314 deaths.
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