GenSan wants own COVID-19 testing lab

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 14 April) – The city government is pushing for the accreditation and opening before the end of the month of its own testing facility for the 2019 coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said they have been closely working with the Department of Health (DOH) and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for the establishment of a COVID-19 testing center at the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital (DJPRH).

He said the real-time polymerase chain reaction machine ordered by the city government for the proposed laboratory already arrived in Cebu.

The testing center, which will have a biosafety level 2 laboratory, will immediately undergo evaluation by the DOH and RITM once completed, he said.

“Hopefully we can put it up in the next two weeks,” Rivera said in a virtual press briefing on Monday night.

The mayor said the City Health Office currently has enough testing kits and continually collecting swab samples from suspected COVID-19 patients.

He said the laboratory confirmations are done at the RITM in Muntinlupa City and the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.

Dr. Ryan Aplicador, DJPRH chief, said the city government earlier applied and completed the self-assessment required by the DOH and RITM for the establishment of a COVID-19 testing center.

He said they are currently waiting for the completion of the laboratory’s setup, which is being done by an undisclosed contractor recommended by RITM and will be shipped to the city through a container van.

It will be placed in a new separate building at the back portion of the DJPRH compound, Aplicador said.

“This is not an ordinary testing facility. It is sophisticated laboratory that will have high-level biosafety system,” he said in a radio interview.

He said three hospital personnel are currently undergoing online training with the RITM regarding the testing procedure and the safety protocols.

Aplicador said the opening of the proposed testing facility will complement with the operations of the city hospital’s COVID-19 isolation or patient care center, which is due for final assessment by the DOH within this week.

He said they already conducted simulations for the handling of COVID-19 patients and other procedures.

The COVID-19 center, which is located at the second level of the hospital’s extension building, has 13 single rooms and three intensive care unit setups.

Once operational, Aplicador said the facility will cater to suspected, probable and confirmed COVID-19 cases.

He added that it will be manned by at least four teams, with each assigned to go on duty for a week and will then be required to undergo 14-day quarantine. (MindaNews)