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Biotech Firm BGI helps PH build COVID-19 Testing Lab

The Philippines launched a COVID-19 testing lab that China’s biotech company BGI Group helped set up to ramp up the country’s testing capacity; on Saturday, May 9.

With the help of China’s biotech company, set up in San Fernando City in Pampanga Province, the lab can conduct 3,000 tests daily and the Philippine government’s testing capacity will now improve to 10,000 daily.

In a statement sent to reporters Sunday, May 10, the Chinese Embassy in Manila said that the Chinese biotech firm Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI) Group formally launched its Molecular and Diagnostic Pathology Laboratory at the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital.

According to the embassy, the formal opening ceremony of the lab was attended by Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Huang Xilian, Minister Counselor and Deputy Chief of the Chinese Embassy in the Philippines Tan QingSheng, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nogales, and Asian Development Bank Vice President Ahmed Saeed.

Tan Qingsheng (L1), deputy chief of mission and minister counselor of the Chinese embassy, and Francisco Duque, Philippine health secretary (L2) (Photo source: Chinese embassy in the Philippines)

“Large-scale testing and detection are crucial to containing the virus,” Tan Qingsheng, Deputy Chief of Mission and Minister Counselor of the Chinese embassy, said at the launching ceremony.

Tan said the completion of the lab is the result of the joint cooperation between China and the Philippines in the efforts to combat COVID-19.

Philippine Health Secretary Francisco Duque thanked China for its help in setting up the laboratory.

With the increased testing capacity, Duque said the Philippines can now detect, identify, and isolate those who contract the virus. “The lab is very significant because it can boost our target to test more people,” he added.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles also thanked China for sharing its technology. “We are very thankful to the Chinese government for allowing us to access this technology,” he said, adding that the laboratory is vital in the Philippines’ efforts to put COVID-19 under control.

“We are very thankful to the Chinese government for lending their aid and support. They even sent specialists over to assess our preparedness and gave us steps and advice on how we could increase our preparedness,” Nograles said.