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Fewer new COVID-19 cases reported due to scaled down RITM ops —DOH

The number of new coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases reported this week is lower than usual after the country’s national reference laboratory scaled down its operations, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), which runs the highest number of COVID-19 tests among the country’s 17 accredited laboratories, had to scale down operations after some 40 staff tested positive for the respiratory disease. 

Data from the DOH as of Tuesday show that over 35,000 of the total 61,049 individuals tested for COVID-19 were processed by the RITM.

Dr. Celia Carlos, RITM director, said their index patient is an encoder who is believed to have contracted COVID-19 from the community and not from the workplace.

“Marami pong exposures ‘yung mga na-infect, like there were people who were going to the market after office [or] go with friends outside after office, so medyo hindi po clear-cut kung paano nila na-acquire so wala po kaming conclusion doon,” she said in a radio interview on Monday.

On Tuesday, the RITM said it will temporarily accept specimens from four Metro Manila cities only to limit further backlogs until they resume normal operations. 

The scaled down operations began on April 16 and will last until April 24, Friday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said that this will affect their daily updates on COVID-19 cases.

The Philippines reported only 111 new COVID-19 cases on Wednesday afternoon for a total of 6,710 infections with 693 recoveries and 446 deaths. —LDF, GMA News