CDO mayor warns labs, firms for COVID-19 tests sans gov’t consultation

Jun. 21, 2020

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Mayor Oscar Moreno warned private clinics conducting rapid diagnostic tests, especially to persons returning to their workplaces, that they will be facing legal action if they continue to do so without coordination from government health authorities.

“I was disappointed since there was no consultation. They should have followed the protocol,” Moreno said during the Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) press briefing on Friday, June 19.

The mayor’s pronouncement came after six employees of a big company tested positive of COVID-19 on Thursday, June 18. The rapid testing equipment used was from a private laboratory.

He said both the private laboratory and the company are liable for conducting the test without referring it first to the City Health Office (CHO).

“It would have been good if the result turned out negative. There should not have been rapid testing if there is no consultation with the CHO,” noted Moreno.

He said he already called the attention of the company’s corporate headquarters in Manila and told them it was grossly irresponsible for their people to conduct the test on their own.

Moreno said entities that initiate testing on their own, sans coordination with the CHO, will be penalized once the city council draws up an ordinance in relation to this. The city government has yet to divulge the identities of the entities in question.

Meanwhile, Dr. Joselito Retuya, CHO’s chief epidemiologist, shared they already advised private testing laboratories to inform the CHO when they conduct the rapid tests.

“We urge them to tell us so we could also get ready in case some tests come out positive,” he said.

Although the six employees tested positive, Retuya said their results are not yet conclusive. They will be subjected to the Reverse Transcription-Polymerarese Chain Reaction testing that is conducted by the Department of Health (DOH) in the region. The patients, he added, were already brought to the city isolation unit, their swab samples taken, and are awaiting results.

In the same press briefing, Dr. Lorraine Nery, CHO officer, said they were not aware that private laboratories have been conducting rapid testing upon the request of a company. She shared they only found out when it was reported by the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERTs).

The BHERTs relay information to CHO as per standard protocol set by the DOH.

Citing DOH Department Order 2020-0258, Nery said only licensed medical doctors may request, administer, and interpret results of the rapid antibody-based tests.

“Other licensed health professionals may administer the rapid antibody tests, provided that they wear appropriate PPRs and they are supervised by a licensed medical doctor,” the order said.

Nery said those engaged in the rapid testing must know how to handle once the results come out. “This failure to comply with their responsibilities, it’s a violation of Republic Act 11332,” she warned.

RA 11332 refers to the mandatory reporting of notifiable disease and health events of public health concern. (

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