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'Frustrated' Marikina mayor to DOH: Operate our COVID-19 lab and we'll handle funding

The mayor of Marikina said he is willing to cede over the city’s COVID-19 Testing Center to the Department of Health (DOH) so that the laboratory can become operational at the soonest possible time.

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro expressed frustration over the bureaucratic processes that he said are stalling the operation of the testing center, stressing that “time is of the essence” when combatting a disease like the COVID-19, which the World Health Organization has already declared a global pandemic.

“Ang nilalabanan natin, ‘yung mabilis na paglaganap ng coronavirus,” he said in a 24 Oras report by Maki Pulido on Tuesday.

“It’s really frustrating because kami ‘yung nasa ground e. Hindi ka lang malulungkot e, minsan may mararamdaman ka ring galit dahil nakikita mo ‘yung kababayan mong naghihirap.”

It will take two to three days before the DOH’s composite team, sent to inspect the Marikina laboratory, submits its findings needed to certify the facility, according to Teodoro.

The mayor said he is willing to allow DOH to operate the testing center, while the Marikina government will be in charge of funding in order for the laboratory to become operational.

“Inaamin naman ng DOH na may kakulangan sa pasilidad kaya nga ito ay binibigay nating tulong sa national government, partikular sa DOH,” Teodoro said.

At a virtual press briefing on Tuesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH has already informed the Marikina government about what the laboratory needs to become certified.

“Iba ang requirements para makapag-test ng COVID-19 specimen. Mas maraming kailangan at mas mahigpit ang protocol para masiguro natin na hindi mahahawa ang komunidad at ang ating healthcare workers,” she said.

Marikina’s COVID-19 Testing Center was supposed to begin operating on Tuesday, but its launch was deferred by the DOH.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases earlier reminded local government units that they must first seek the approval of the DOH prior to acquiring test kits.

The new coronavirus has so far claimed 33 lives and infected 552 people in the Philippines. -Julia Mari Ornedo/MDM, GMA News