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DOH plans to launch genome sequencing laboratories in VisMin in 2022.

The Philippine Genome Center’s satellite laboratories in Visayas and Mindanao will open next year, according to a health official.

During an online media briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire stated that both satellite laboratories’ workers are making all necessary preparations before their facilities are open to the public.

“‘Yung kanilang mga laboratory worker has already completed two trainings. May isa yatang kailangan na kailangan na kailangan na kailangan matapos bago matapos ang taon. ‘Yung equipment nila unti unti nang dumarating (Their laboratory personnel have already been through two trainings.) Another training must be finished by the end of the year, after which their equipment will be supplied),” she explained.

Once the laboratories are in order and the reagents are in place, an inspection will take place.

“In general, siguro, aantayin natin mga January or February next year, mag-uumpisa po tayo sa ating (maybe, we’ll start with our) satellite laboratories in Visayas and Mindanao,” Vergeire added.

Because there are currently no genome sequencing laboratories in Visayas and Mindanao, Vergeire told the public that samples from visitors entering the nation through both island groups are being sequenced.

“When we sequence, we get samples from all around the country,” she explained, “not just from Metro Manila, not just from returning abroad Filipinos or incoming passengers from our ports here in Metro Manila or even from Clark.”

Incoming passengers who test positive for Covid-19 will have their samples sequenced for the presence of variations of concern, according to the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases guidelines.

“We’re putting that in place uniformly across all ports of entry in the country,” Vergeire continued.

The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Wednesday that 48 samples sequenced by the Philippine Genome Center Tuesday revealed two imported cases of the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variation.

The cases are still being isolated, according to the DOH, and their close contacts have been identified.

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