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RITM to scale down ops after 31 staff get COVID-19

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the national reference laboratory and biggest coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing center, will scale down its operations anew after 31 staff contracted the respiratory illness.

According to Sandra Aguinaldo’s Thursday report on “24 Oras,” the limited operations will run until July 18.

Director Dr. Celia Carlos said the RITM will also conduct full servicing of equipment, decontamination of facilities, and further COVID-19 testing of staff.

“This does not mean we will be closing our doors. We will still be accepting specimens from admitted patients within our testing zone for the five days of the laboratory operation scale down,” she said.

However, the RITM has requested the Centers for Health Development in Regions 4-A and 4-B to temporarily send samples to other licensed laboratories.

The RITM’s testing zone covers Metro Manila, Batangas, Laguna, Quezon, Marinduque, Occidental Mindoro, and Romblon.

The laboratory first scaled down its operations in April after some 40 staff tested positive for COVID-19, which led to a lower number of new cases reported by the Department of Health. 

Coronavirus testing czar Vince Dizon said the RITM’s limiting of operations is not a cause for concern since there are now 85 accredited laboratories nationwide.

The Philippines has recorded 61,266 COVID-19 cases with 21,440 recoveries and 1,643 deaths as of Thursday afternoon. -Julia Mari Ornedo/NB, GMA News