GenSan fast-tracking operationalization of COVID-19 testing center

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 21 April) – The opening of a testing center here soon for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) will be a “game changer” in the city’s efforts to

contain and prevent the spread of the deadly disease, a health official said.

Dr. Ryan Aplicador, chief of the city government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital (DJPRH), said they have fast-tracked the processing of the requirements for the operationalization of the facility, which will have an advanced laboratory setup.

The city government had contracted a company accredited and recommended by the Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for the establishment of the laboratory at the DJPRH.

It allotted an initial P15 million for the acquisition of a real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine and installation of a biosafety level 2 laboratory system.

Aplicador said the presence of the testing center will mainly level up the management in the city of suspected, probable and even confirmed cases of COVID-19.

“We call it a game changer because in China, they used this testing to isolate people who needs to be isolated,” he told reporters.

Citing their current protocol, he said they isolate patients based on the signs and symptoms, and then label them as patients under investigation or suspected COVID-19 cases.

He said these were all treated like positive cases, prompting doctors and other health care workers to utilize their limited supply of personal protective equipment since they could not immediately confirm the infection status of the patient.

With the RT-PCR machine and laboratory in operation, Aplicador said medical frontliner workers will be able to manage and respond properly if there will be second, third or even fourth wave of COVID-19 resurgence.

The official said the city’s COVID-19 inter-agency task force headed by Mayor Ronnel Rivera has been coordinating with the DOH and RITM to speed up the approval of the testing center.

He said the city has already complied with the first and third of the five-stage process for the operationalization of the facility.

The first stage was the self-assessment and application while the third was the training of assigned laboratory personnel.

Aplicador said at least three medical technologies have completed the training with RITM on laboratory operations and safety protocols.

He said the second stage, which is still ongoing, was the construction of the testing laboratory and installation of the required equipment.

Once completed and approved, he said they will proceed to the fourth stage, which is the trial testing and calibration in collaboration with the RITM.

“Stage five will be the start of the actual testing,” he added. (MindaNews)