DOH warns against use of commercially available COVID-19 test kits

Marje Pelayo   •   April 1, 2020   •   1434

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) has warned the public not to purchase COVID-19 rapid test kits that are made available commercially.

“Gusto din po natin ipaalam na ang mga rapid test kits na ito ay hindi ibinebenta sa publiko. Tanging ospital at healthcare workers ang maaaring mag-administer nito. Kaya ‘wag po tayo basta magtitiwala sa mga hindi authorized mag-alok ng rapid test kits, (We would like the public to know that these rapid test kits are not sold commercially to the public. Only hospitals and authorized health care workers are allowed to administer such test. Do not easily trust unauthorized persons offering you such test kits),” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

“Sana po ay ‘wag po kayo bibili ng ganito sa online at ipapagawa kung kani-kanino lang. Ito ay gagamitin pa din sa loob ng ospital with the guidance of a doctor, (Do not purchase such test kits online and don’t let just anybody do the test. The test kits should still be used inside the hospital with the guidance of a doctor),” she added.

At present, a total of 11 brands of rapid or anti-body test kits are registered under the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Meanwhile, 49 laboratories across the country are waiting DOH approval for them to operate as COVID-19 testing laboratories.

Aside from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), there are five sub-national laboratories authorized to conduct COVID-19 testing.

These are the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center; San Lazaro Hospital; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center; Southern Philippines Medical Center; and the UP National Institutes of Health (UP NIH). 

On Wednesday (March 31), the Lung Center of the Philippines started accepting samples after it received approval to conduct Stage 4 Proficiency Testing. MNP (with details from Aiko Miguel)

PH Defense receives 50K COVID-19 swab test kits from Singapore

Robie de Guzman   •   April 16, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – The Department of National Defense (DND) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) have received 50,000 units of COVID-19 swab test kits from the Singapore Ministry of Defense.

The donated test kits were turned over to the DND and the AFP on Thursday, April 15.

The DND said the test kits will be issued to the Veterans Memorial Medical Center (VMMC) and the AFP Medical Center (AFPMC).

The VMMC, which is mandated to provide quality medical care and treatment to veterans and their dependents, is under the purview of the Philippine Veterans Affairs Office (PVAO).

The AFPMC, meanwhile, provides medical care to the military and civilian personnel of the AFP.

“Both PVAO and AFP are government bureaus under the DND,” the department said.

Police seize unregistered COVID-19 test kits, nab 2 suspects in Navotas

Robie de Guzman   •   March 3, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Boxes containing unauthorized COVID-19 test kits were seized in an entrapment operation in Navotas City, the Philippine National Police (PNP) said on Wednesday.

In a statement, PNP chief General Debold Sinas said police operatives recovered Tuesday 154 boxes each containing 50 pieces of Clungene rapid test kits worth P1,016,000, and marked money amounting to P436,000.

The PNP said the operation conducted at Barangay San Rafael stemmed from information shared by the Food and Drug Administration.

The operation also yielded the arrest of 40-year old Chinese trader Liset Lo Kaw and 23-year old Christian Casanova who marketed the unregistered test kits online.

Sinas said the arrested suspects are leaders of Christian CG, a criminal group engaged in online selling.

“We remind the public to be vigilant and to immediately report any suspicious online transactions. We cannot discount the risks associated with unauthorized medical products that could possibly endanger public health,” the PNP chief said.

“Also, we encourage those who are engaged in food or health product businesses to get pertinent legal documents from the FDA to avoid conflict with the law,” he added.

The PNP said the suspects were brought to Quezon City District Field Unit office for documentation and booking process.

They will face charges for violation of the Food and Drug Administration Act of 2009 in relation to FDA Circular No. 2020-016 or the prohibition of Online selling of FDA Certified COVID-19 Antibody Test Kit.

Manila LGU tracks source of used rapid test kits scattered in Sampaloc

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 2, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Manila City government is tracking the source of the used rapid test kits that were found scattered on a street in Sampaloc, Manila on Tuesday night (September 1).

Manila Mayor Isko Moreno Domagoso said they already have a lead on where the rapid test kits came from. He also warned that the local government will file charges against hospitals, clinics, and laboratories that will fail to properly dispose hazard wastes.

“We saw already a person of interest  so that we will locate maybe the clinic, maybe a private office, maybe a hospital or maybe a laboratory. Sa ngayon mayroon nang lead (we already have a lead),” he said.

The rapid test kits were placed inside sacks loaded on a sidecar of a pedicab. One of the sacks fell off causing the used test kits to scatter along M. Dela Fuente Street.

The Department of Health (DOH) also warned that erring establishments could face revocation of license. DOH Spokesperson Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire reminded healthcare facilities to follow the proper protocols on disposal of hazardous waste.

Vergeire said improper disposal of hazardous waste increases risk to public health.

“We issue warnings kapag hindi ka pa rin sumunod (if you still do not follow). We will suspend you and the final revocation of license. With regard to these healthcare waste their license will be at risk,” she said.

The Manila local government immediately collected the used rapid test kits and disinfected the area. The used kits will be turned over to an accredited hazardous waste collector. AAC (with reports from Dante Amento)

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