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Bicol’s Covid-19 testing center now inoperable

LEGAZPI CITY --- Typhoon “Ambo” destroyed the exhaust duct of the lone Covid-19 testing machine of the Department of Health (DOH) in the Bicol region on Friday, May 15, rendering it inoperable for the time being. Ernie Vera, DOH Bicol regional director, said the exhaust duct of the biosafety cabinet of the Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory (BRDRL) was damaged by Typhoon “Ambo.”

The biosafety cabinet is part of the machine where the samples taken in reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests are processed.

“Samples cannot be processed until the exhaust duct is fixed. Thus, the BRDRL will not accept samples at this time until further notice,” Vera said.

DOH Bicol will send to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Metro Manila the 146 remaining samples from the region that were not tested on Friday due to the fluctuating current brought about by Typhoon Ambo.

“DOH Bicol is finding measures to fix the problem as soon as possible and come up with other measures to ensure uninterrupted testing for Covid-19. Until then, DOH asked for patience and understanding from the public,” Vera said.

The BRDRL has been doing coronavirus tests since April after it passed the proficiency testing of the RITM, the DOH’s primary research center.

Before the exhaust duct was destroyed by the typhoon, the BRDRL had been able to process 30 samples a day. The laboratory prioritized for testing patients under investigation and those in the high-risk group, such as senior citizens, persons with co-morbidities, and those with severe respiratory symptoms.

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