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China's biotech firm BGI helps Philippines build COVID-19 testing lab

Source: Xinhua | 2020-05-11

MANILA, May 9 (Xinhua) -- The Philippines launched on Saturday a COVID-19 testing lab that China's biotech company BGI Group helped set up to ramp up the country's testing capacity.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB)-funded pandemic sub-national reference laboratory Huo-Yan at the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital in San Fernando City in Pampanga Province, north of Manila, will begin operating on Sunday.

The lab can conduct 3,000 tests daily. With its help, the Philippine government's testing capacity will now improve to 10,000 daily.

"Large-scale testing and detection are crucial to contain the virus," Tan Qingsheng, deputy chief of mission and minister counselor of the Chinese embassy, said at the launching ceremony.

Tan said the completion of the lab is the result of the joint cooperation between China and the Philippines in the efforts to combat COVID-19.

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque thanked China for its help in setting up the laboratory.

With the increased testing capacity, Duque said the Philippines can now detect, identify and isolate those who contract the virus. "The lab is very significant because it can boost our target to test more people," he added.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also thanked China for sharing its technology. "We are very thankful to the Chinese government for allowing us to access to this technology," he said, adding that the laboratory is vital in the Philippines' efforts to put COVID-19 under control.

"We are very thankful to the Chinese government for lending their aid and support. They even sent specialists over to assess our preparedness and gave us steps and advice on how we could increase our preparedness," Nograles said.

The laboratory is funded by a 3-million-U.S. dollar grant from ADB's Asia-Pacific Disaster Response Fund, which was approved in March.

The Philippines has currently registered 10,610 COVID-19 cases, including 704 deaths and 1,842 recoveries.