MANILA, Philippines – The office of Vice President Leni Robredo donated P5.3 million worth of novel coronavirus extraction kits to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the country’s primary testing center.
Robredo’s office delivered the kits as well several personal protective equipment (PPE) sets to RITM’s headquarters in Muntinlupa on Friday, March 20.
“The extraction kits were obtained from a local supplier. An extraction kit separates the genetic material from the other components of the virus. The detecting kit identifies whether the extracted genetic material is that of the virus [2019 n-CoV]. This was requested by RITM,” Barry Gutierrez, Robredo’s spokesperson, told Rappler in a text message.
In a statement, the OVP said that the extraction kits may be used for 12,750 coronavirus tests at RITM and the other subnational laboratories where coronavirus samples may be tested. These are the Lung Center of the Philippines, San Lazaro Hospital, UP-National Institutes of Health, Baguio General Hospital (Baguio City), Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (Cebu City), and Southern Philippines Medical Center (Davao City).
The DOH has admitted the Philippine health care system is “challenged” by the growing demand for test kits, where supplies run low in the provinces outside Metro Manila. (READ: Coronavirus mass testing not needed for now – DOH)
The country has mostly been relying on donations from the World Health Organization (WHO) and foreign countries to augment its low supply of test kits, though the DOH is working to increase the Philippines’ testing capacity.
Health workers both in private and public hospitals also suffer from shortage of medical supplies and PPEs. (READ: Left in the dark: Little protection for government’s coronavirus frontliners)
The OVP statement did not specify how many PPE sets it donated on Friday, but it has raised as much as P17.3 million to buy protective gear for health workers on the frontlines against COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.
Robredo and the partners of her flagship anti-poverty program, Angat Buhay, have been raising funds to give assistance to health professionals, whose travel to and from hospitals have been hampered by the lockdown imposed by the national government over the entire Luzon.
The OVP is currently providing free shuttles for health workers around Metro Manila.
As of 12pm, Friday, March 20, the Philippines has tallied a total of 230 positive cases of COVID-19. The number of fatalities climbed to 18, while 8 patients have recovered. –Rappler.com