DOH probes lab violating COVID test price range

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    THE Department of Health has asked a COVID-19 testing facility to explain why it charges more than the price range it set for reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said yesterday.

    “We found one facility that is non-compliant. We already sent a letter to them asking them to explain,” said Vergeire. “We are just waiting for their reply to determine if it is valid or not or if they should be penalized.”

    As of yesterday, there were 192 licensed COVID-19 testing laboratories nationwide, including 147 real-time RT-PCR laboratories and 45 GeneXpert laboratories. There are 55 more laboratories applying for accreditation.

    Vergeire said the DOH will continue to monitor other COVID-19 testing laboratories through their Health Facility and Services Regulatory Bureau.

    Late last month, the DOH and the Department of Trade and Industry issued a joint order setting the price range for plate-based RT-PCR testing at P4,500 to P5,000. On the other hand, public laboratories can charge swab tests for a flat rate of P3,800.

    Vergeire said the DOH is encouraging all accredited laboratories to consider posting the prices of their COVID-19 tests through tarpaulins and leaflets in their facilities, and online,

    such as in their websites and social media pages.
    “We are pushing for transparency in the pricing of swab tests in hospitals and other health facilities,” she said.

    The Makati City government yesterday opened a testing hub at the city hall grounds for city residents and businesses.

    Makati Mayor Abby Binay said a COVID-19 test costs just P2,950, which she said is reasonably priced compared to private clinics and hospitals in Metro Manila.
    Fourteen city residents were the first to get tested yesterday. They made reservations for the test through www.safemakati.com.

    “Now that we have more experience in mass testing, I am encouraging companies, businesses, establishments, and private individuals to take advantage of our offer. Just go online (www.safemakati.com) and book for a test, even if you don’t feel any symptoms or have not come in contact with anyone who tested positive for COVID-19,” Binay said.

    In September, the city government conducted swabs tests for some 6,000 residents who are drivers of public utility vehicles and market vendors.

    As of December 14, the city has recorded 9,500 COVID-19 cases. — With Noel Talacay