We receive and test all samples that fit the criteria—RITM

MUNTINLUPA CITY—A string of malicious text messages being circulated among infectious diseases (ID) specialists prompted the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOHRITM) Director Celia Carlos to clarify that RITM accepts the testing of all viable samples from COVID-19 patients and suspected cases.

I do not screen who should undergo testing and who should not—it is within the discretion of the attending medical doctor to order the test. RITM processes and receives all samples that are fit for testing in our laboratory on a first-in-first-out basis; these do not need my go signal to proceed with the testing,” Carlos affirmed.

This clarification comes after the RITM Director received a text message from another ID specialist validating the legitimacy of claims that samples need her prior approval in order to be processed for COVID-19 confirmatory testing.

The Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Units (RESUs) collect individual samples for delivery to RITM. As the National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for emerging infectious diseases, RITM accepts and tests delivered samples if they fit the criteria including, among others, the suitability of swab used for collection; the intactness of transportation tubes; and the appropriateness of packaging and temperature during transport.

Since the first confirmed case of COVID-19 community transmission in the country, RITM has been enduring a surge of samples from various regions. To date, more than 13,000 samples have already been tested since the Institute independently ran the first batch on January 15.