GenSan to purchase COVID-19 test kits

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 23 March) — The city government is working on the acquisition of rapid test kits for the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19) to facilitate the immediate detection of possible infections in the area.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said Monday they are currently looking for possible suppliers of COVID-19 test kits and necessary equipment in coordination with concerned government agencies.

He said the city has set aside funds for such purpose through its quick response allocation to combat the disease.

The city council placed the city last month under a state of calamity due to the COVID-19 threat and allotted some PHP10 million for mitigation and response initiatives.

“The earlier detection of possible cases will allow us to control their spread and eventually ease the fears of our residents about the situation,” he told reporters.

As of 4 p.m. Sunday, the City Health Office (CHO) said three persons under investigation (PUI) for COVID-19 remained admitted in undisclosed hospitals here while three others have tested negative and already discharged.

A PUI has been also cleared of the disease after completing home quarantine, it added.

A total of 555 persons under monitoring (PUMs) are currently undergoing the mandatory 14-day home quarantine while 109 had completed the observation protocol without any sign and symptom of the disease.

Dr. Rochelle Oco, acting CHO chief, said in a briefing that the city has no confirmed case of COVID-19 as of posting time.

She said the remaining three admitted PUIs had been tested for the disease but they are still waiting for the results from the Department of Health’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Oco said it usually takes over a week before the test results are released by the RITM.

“It will really be a big help if we will have our own rapid test kits,” she said.

The city government has stepped up quarantine measures in the entire area over the weekend by the “extreme prevention of nonessential travel” and other related measures.

South Cotabato 1st District Rep. Shirlyn Bañas-Nograles earlier asked President Rodrigo Duterte, Senator Christopher Lawrence Go, and Health Secretary Francisco Duque III to consider putting up a testing center for COVID-19 in the city.

She said the Mindanao State University-General Santos campus, which has a polymerase chain reaction machine and microbiology laboratory with biosafety level 2 cabinet, had offered their facility for such purpose.

City officials have proposed that the testing center be established at the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital. (Richelyn Gubalani / MindaNews)