• The Financial District


The Asian Development Bank (ADB) has granted a $3 million fund for the Department of Health for a Covid 19 testing site in the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando City , Pampanga.

Dubbed the Pandemic Sub-National Reference Laboratory , the new facility will significantly increase the government’s testing capacity for the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to 10,000 tests a day, up from the country’s current daily capacity of around 7,000 tests.

ADB sourced the fund from its Asia Pacific Disaster Response Fund, which was approved in March. COVID-19 testing at the hospital started last May 10 with technicians completing weeks of training on biosafety and specimen collection and testing.

“This state-of-the-art facility is part of the government’s strategy to increase the number of laboratories across the country and significantly boost its COVID-19 testing capacity to flatten the pandemic curve and save lives,” said ADB Vice-President Ahmed M. Saeed.

“In addition, ADB is working closely with the Department of Health to prepare a $125 million project to supplement this new laboratory and support the government’s response to the pandemic with additional testing kits and medical and personal protection equipment for hospitals nationwide.”

The laboratory has adequate staffing and is fully compliant with all regulatory requirements. DOH will organize the collection and transportation of COVID-19 samples from health facilities to the laboratory, as well as transmitting test results to the health facilities.

“Early detection and isolation of new COVID-19 cases is critical to managing potential outbreaks, especially as the government is considering gradually lifting quarantine measures. This makes testing all the more vital, and we are truly pleased with the Asian Development Bank’s support as we continue to work on strengthening the capacity of the country’s health care system to manage this pandemic,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

Most equipment for the laboratory and COVID-19 testing kits arrived in the Philippines in April, including an April 22 shipment via the Philippine Air Force. The equipment was sourced from the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI), one of the world’s largest genomics companies serving more than 66 countries, which also offered technical support in setting up the laboratory and training of hospital staff.