In light of the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), Onelab, through its member-laboratories joins the nationwide efforts in battling the war against the spread of COVID-19. While we are observing the work from home schemes, it never hindered laboratory staff to take part in its agency’s initiatives to help fight against the deadly virus.
While following the directives of their respective LGUs to stay-at-home, essential OneLab member-laboratories stepped-up to offer critical laboratory services by providing free testing of disinfectants and alcohols to determine its quality and purity before distribution to frontline institutions and personnel by the LGUs and private companies. Aside from disinfectants, PPEs such as facemask and lab gowns, are being sterilized through dose mapping and irradiation by the Philippine Nuclear Research Institute. On-going material and product testing are being conducted by lab staff of the Philippine Textile Research Institute for its REwear (Reusable, Washable, and Rewearable) facemasks again to be distributed for free to frontliners. Also, the laboratory staff, sourcing from their laboratory supply, prepared and distributed approximately 160L of 70% ethyl alcohol, surgical masks and nitrile gloves to several hospitals in the country. In addition, the RT-PCR machine of ITDI, FNRI, DOST CALABARZON, and DOST XI were lent to COVID referral hospitals and RITM in support of the call for mass testing.
Meanwhile, the following DOST laboratories remain open to serve the immediate needs of their customers: DOST XII Satellite Laboratory in General Santos City to accommodate the microbiological testing needs of the tuna canneries in the area, DOST II to provide road tanker calibration and the Pharmacology and Toxicology section of Industrial Technology Development Institute to maintain the laboratory animals being used for research by the Institute.
Despite the temporary suspension of services of several laboratories, the OneLab IT referral system is running and functional allowing for referral of samples to member-laboratories that are open. In fact, DOST IX referred eight (8) coffee samples for microanalysis to Intertek Philippines and two (2) samples for nutritional fact analysis are scheduled to be sent to the same laboratory.
Dedicated to providing awareness to the public, DOST RSTLs and RDIs disseminated information through their respective official Facebook page on the basic protective measures against COVID-19 such as proper handwashing, use of disinfectant, gloves, and face masks as well as other related information to help flatten the curve of the pandemic. Moreover, they assisted their respective LGUs in linking to laboratory suppliers for disinfectants and PPEs such as face masks and gloves.
Among the 31 Non-DOST member-laboratories, the following are open to serve its customers, Philippine Institute of Pure and Applied Chemistry (PIPAC), National Reference Laboratory (NRL), Intertek Testing Services Philippines, Inc.; SGS Philippines, Inc.; Optimal Laboratories, Inc., Analytical Solutions & Technical Services (ASTS), Negros Prawn Producers Cooperative (NPPC), Jefcor Laboratories. In the international front, the following OneLab members, Australian Food Microbiology-Australia, Geoscience Testing Laboratory–UAE, SGS Thailand, and Cordina Chicken Farms-Australia, are categorized under essential services hence they remain fully operational.
Looking ahead, we, the OneLab will continue to be working together with our partner organizations to defeat COVID-19 as one. We heal as one! (Rosemarie Salazar, DOST Region IX)