San Miguel’s Ramon Ang Opens COVID-19 Testing Lab for Company's 70,000 Workforce
San Miguel Corporation’s president and COO Ramon S. Ang posted on Facebook that the company has opened Better World Edsa, a facility that houses the company’s own state-of-the-art COVID-19 RT-PCR testing laboratory for its 70,000 employees. Ang said it’s a way to unburden the health sector and help ensure a safe return-to-work strategy in the coming months.
“Today we formally opened our Better World Edsa COVID-19 testing lab that can process 4,000 tests a day, expandable to 12,000, using PCR and high-throughput RNA machines,” Ang said in his post. “We are taking responsibility for testing some 70,000 employees and extended workforce in our network, to help unburden our healthcare system. We want to safely reintroduce employees back to work, so they can help restart our economy. We thank the DoH and the National Task Force on COVID-19 for their support. Magtulong-tulong po tayo—mga mamamayan, government, business sector—para maibangon ang ating ekonomiya at bayan.”
Arguably the most powerful businessman in the country, Ang helped transform one of the oldest companies into one of the biggest and most diversified conglomerates today. He is also known to be a very compassionate employer and advocate of innovation and nation building.
Ang unveiled the marker for the new lab facility together with National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19 chief implementer and Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., COVID-19 Task Force deputy chief implementer and testing czar Secretary Vince Dizon, and Department of Health undersecretary Leopoldo Vega.
The Better World Edsa testing facility has the capacity to process 4,000 tests per day, expandable to 12,000. It is equipped with two sets of RT-PCR machines and fully automated nucleic acid extraction systems or NATCH. A set is comprised of two PCR machines and one NATCH. This makes the facility one of the most advanced private testing laboratories in the country.
“Two weeks into the quarantine last March, we included the testing laboratory as part of our business continuity plan. We procured the machines, and had personnel undergo training for its full-scale operations,” added Ang.
“With this facility, we are taking responsibility for testing our own employees and unburdening our health system. It also helps make our operations more resilient to disruptions brought about by the virus. Lesser disruptions on our operations will allow us to better contribute to the immediate recovery of the economy,” he said.
He further added that the company aims to bring back 50 percent of its workforce in the coming weeks. As the whole nation slowly shifts to general community quarantine, SMC had already started testing its employees, prioritizing those in its food manufacturing facilities, to further stabilize the country’s food supply in the coming months.
The SMC lab is capable of continuous testing and processing of results. Among the personnel running the facility are molecular pathologists, medical technicians, data managers, and lab aides.
Ang also made testing available at little or no cost, particularly for the most vulnerable communities. In this regard, SMC donated swab booths as well as PCR testing kits equivalent to 34,000 tests to 17 Metro Manila LGUs. The company also gave three units of Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing machines and RNA machines to key government hospitals aside from the five sets of the same machines donated to the Department of Health, which also received testing kits equivalent to 20,000 tests.
SMC also donated 55 sets of high-flow nasal cannula (HFNC) machines for the use of severely-ill Covid-19 patients to the government and 10 quarantine facilities each with a 15-bed capacity beside military camp hospitals nationwide.