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The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday announced that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has successfully optimized its Real-time PCR assay for detecting monkeypox virus as part of the national preparedness and response efforts.

“Following protocols, only those satisfying the definition of ‘suspect’ cases will be tested,” the DOH said citing that such is stated under DOH Department Memorandum (DM) No. 2022-0220.

The DOH noted that following the case definitions for monkeypox as provided in DOH DM No. 2022-0220, only “suspect” cases are to be tested following strict clinical criteria that can distinguish monkeypox from other related or similar diseases.

“RITM has in that context not yet tested for monkeypox as no patient fitting these case definitions have been identified, and there have been no confirmed local or imported cases in the country,” the DOH clarified.

The DOH added that testing services for monkeypox is being finalized.

“Rest assured that the DOH will inform the public of any further developments on this matter,” DOH said.

The RITM was earlier designated as the main isolation facility for suspect, probable, and confirmed monkeypox cases.

The DOH indicated that its Field Implementation and Coordination Team (FICT) and the One Hospital Command Center (OHCC) are working on the specific designation of isolation facilities with the priority to ensure compliance with requirements.

“According to DOH Department Memorandum 2022-0220 Interim Technical Guidelines for the Implementation of monkeypox Surveillance Screening, Management, and Infection Control, during the activation of Doors 1 and 2 of DOH’s 4-Door Alert System, the RITM is hereby designated as the main isolation facility for suspect, probable, and confirmed monkeypox cases,” the department noted.