Philippine conglomerate Ayala to open 5 coronavirus testing labs

21, May. 2020

QualiMed Hospital in St. Rosa Laguna Province, south of metro Manila, where one of AC Health’s RT-PCR laboratories would be located. (Photo courtesy of AC Health)
QualiMed Hospital in St. Rosa Laguna Province, south of metro Manila, where one of AC Health’s RT-PCR laboratories would be located. (Photo courtesy of AC Health)

MANILA, NNA – Ayala Healthcare Holdings Inc. (AC Health), will open five laboratories for Covid-19 testing following its commitment to help the government ramp up the country’s testing capacity in its battle against the highly infectious disease.

In an online media briefing, AC Health President and CEO Paolo Borromeo said the company is making contributions to the Philippine government’s Task Force T3 (Test, Trace and Treat) , which aims to have 66 laboratories conducting real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests throughout the country.

The government wants to increase the number of tests carried out daily, from 11,000 to 30,000 by the end of this month. So far, 31 labs have been set up to conduct the RT-PCR test, considered a gold standard in Covid-19 testing.

Ayala Healthcare is a unit of conglomerate Ayala Corp., which has been engaged in sectors including property, banking and industrial businesses for a long time.

Borromeo said the five labs could conduct up to 3,000 tests a day in total, with each contributing 600 to 800 tests.

The labs are being built in the Tropical Disease Foundation in Makati, a central business district in Manila, as well as at the branches of its partner hospital QualiMed Health Network in Laguna, Batangas, Bulacan, and Iloilo City.

The first facility is expected to open this week, while the rest might open next month.

Due to a shortage of medical technicians and other personnel that could handle the very delicate testing, Borromeo said the labs would use automation to overcome the problem instead.

His company will also offer anti-body rapid tests in some affiliated clinics at 1,600 pesos ($31.6) per test.

It has also begun conducting anti-body rapid tests for 54,000 employees of Ayala Corp. Other conglomerate companies have also initiated anti-body rapid tests for their employees.

AC Health has allotted 300 million pesos for its coronavirus response efforts, which include the five labs, Borromeo said.

In April, the Philippines launched Task Force T3, a government's partnership with the private sector to significantly increase its testing capacity amid a growing public clamor for a mass testing program.

Other private sector partners include big companies like Pharmaceutical giant Unilab Philippines, infrastructure investment firm Metro Pacific Investments Corp., and major local developer Filinvest Land Inc.

Government officials recently said they have already implemented an “expanded but targeted testing” of patients who are showing symptoms of Covid-19 and those who are most at risk of contracting the disease like healthcare workers.

The country aims to test up to 2 percent of its 110 million population. So far, it has conducted 224,673 RT-PCR tests.

In Southeast Asia, the Philippines has the third most number of positive cases. As of Wednesday, it has reported a total of 13,221 cases and 842 deaths.

Meanwhile, the country has extended quarantine restrictions three times since it was first implemented in Luzon island on March 17.

In May, the government eased quarantine restrictions in many parts of the country. It also allowed the opening of some businesses in areas like Metro Manila, the hardest-hit by the pandemic, and still under restrictions together with two other hotspots.