The Quezon City government has forged partnerships with the Chinese General Hospital and the Philippine Genome Center to hasten the processing and release of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) test results from its intensified community-based testing.
“As we increase our testing capacity, we need more laboratories that will process the specimen and speed up the identification of positive COVID-19 cases in our city,” said Dr. Rolly Cruz, head of the QC-Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (ESU) of the City Health Department.
"Our target is to do 10,000 or more tests by the end of the month," said Cruz.
Under the agreement, Cruz said the Chinese General Hospital and Medical Center will accept and process 50 tests per day with a turnaround time of 2-3 days.
The Philippine Genome Center, which can also process swab tests gathered from the community-based testing centers, recently received 2,000 PCR test kits donated to the Quezon City government by San Miguel Corporation (SMC) and 13,000 rapid testing kits from Bloomberg, Ayala Corp. and other anonymous donors led by Project Ark.
“The rapid testing serves as guide for city health officials. Anybody can do 10,000 tests, including us, but at the end of the day we still rely on PCR test, which is considered the gold standard worldwide,” he added.
Cruz added that intensified and timely testing has contributed immensely to the city’s recovery rate of 38.81 percent as of May 18 based from the validated cases.
“Nakikita na natin agad iyong mga positive or suspect cases then we isolate and treat them immediately. Once they are doing better, they undergo further testing to make sure that they are COVID free,” Cruz stressed.
Joseph Juico, project manager of the community-based testing, welcomed the addition of partner laboratories, saying it would greatly contribute to the city’s aim to flatten the curve.
“As more laboratories are being accredited by the Department of Health (DOH), we intend to partner with some of them who can process the bulk of our tests,” Juico said.
The QC government has earlier entered into partnerships with St. Luke’s Medical Center-Quezon City, Philippine Genome Center, Singapore Diagnostics, and Philippine Red Cross for the processing of PCR tests.
"Partnering with laboratories is important. What QC is after is not just test, test, test but we are after results, results, results. The quicker the turnaround time is, the better," Juico said.
"If we rely solely on national government hospitals who are already at their limit given the number of tests they have to fulfill, it will affect the ideal schedule turnaround of 2- 3 days," he added.
He said this will help QC in educating the patients to properly isolate so they won't infect other people.
"For those who can't follow proper quarantine procedures we have the HOPE facility for those patients," Juico said.