DOH: 4 regions face difficulty in submitting samples for genome sequencing

A laboratory at the Philippine Genome Center. (Photo from the PGC website)

MANILA, Philippines — Four regions in the country are finding it difficult to submit COVID-19 positive samples for genome sequencing because of transportation issues and the lack of sufficient laboratories, the Department of Health (DOH) said Friday.

“’Yun pong proseso natin for genome sequencing collecting from our regions, ang may mga difficulties po talaga para makapagsend ng kanilang samples would be Regions 8, Region 5, Region 9 at tsaka BARMM (Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online press briefing.

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(For the collection of samples for genome sequencing, the regions that have difficulty submitting samples are Regions 8, Region 5, Region 9, and BARMM.)

“Unang-unang rason po dito would be of course ‘yung kanilang transport. It’s coming from regions and hindi po masyadong ma-access para makapagpadala ng specimens dito sa sa amin sa Metro Manila,” said Vergeire.

(The main reason for this is the transportation. It’s coming from the regions and they cannot easily transport the specimens to Metro Manila.)

She added that aside from transportation concerns, the four regions also lack enough laboratories.

“Pero ang nakikita naming pinaka-isyu would be ito pong apat na regions natin na ito, medyo may kakulangan sa laboratoryo, so as long as we cannot get adequate specimens for the positive in your area hindi natin ‘yan pwede ipadala sa Philippine Genome Center,” Vergeire said.

(But the main issue that we see here is that these four regions lack laboratories. As long as we cannot get adequate specimens for the positive samples in their area, we cannot send it to the Philippine Genome Center.)

The country has so far detected a total of 118 cases of the B.1.1.7 variant from the United Kingdom and 58 cases of the B.1.135 variant from South Africa, according to DOH.

Vergeire said results of the latest genome sequencing run will be released this Friday afternoon or within this week. Liezelle Soriano Roy, trainee

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