RITM announces temporary lab shutdown on Nov 1 & 2

MUNTINLUPA CITY—As a precaution for the imminent landfall of Typhoon Rolly, the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM) will temporarily shut down its laboratory operations on November 1 and 2. This is to provide room for the implementation of disaster risk mitigation measures throughout the Institute.

As per the latest Severe Weather Bulletin issued by the Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration (PAGASA), Typhoon Rolly is forecasted to bring heavy to intense rains starting Saturday, October 31.

“We intend to test samples received until tomorrow. We strongly encourage disease reporting units (DRUs) to refer their samples early, preferably between 7-10 A.M. Those that would not be tested within the day will be stored in our -70° freezer for priority queuing when we resume operations,” announced RITM Director Celia Carlos.

Starting today, key personnel will be on 24-hour duty to reinforce facilities, secure equipment, and back up files, data, systems, and programs in case of rain damage and power interruption. While the reserve power requirement for reefer vans storing temperature-sensitive COVID-19 supplies are currently being established, RITM has also made arrangements with the DOH NCR warehouse for the emergency transfer of the National Immunization Program (NIP) vaccines stored in the Institute. Likewise, existing electrical loads of laboratories will be expanded during this period to prevent further operational disruption in cases of inclement weather going forward.

While the three testing streams in RITM will resume accepting referred samples on Tuesday, November 3, clinical services within the Institute will remain unhampered. Outpatient swabbing and walk-in patients will still be entertained, however, only COVID-19 cases will be admitted at the hospital.

For patients who will sustain injuries due to the typhoon, RITM will provide first-aid and assistance for transfer to Ospital ng Muntinlupa (OsMun). Provision of essential patient care supplies is assured, and concerned units are mobilizing for possible evacuation of currently admitted patients to safer areas within the hospital.

“This temporary halt means that we give serious attention to addressing challenges in our infrastructure and equipment, which, at this point, may not be able to sustain the repeated onslaught of typhoons. We shall proceed with these risk mitigation measures fully understanding of our part in the ongoing outbreak response, while also ensuring the safety of our employees, stakeholders, and everyone who transports specimens to our facility,” Carlos said.