Mayor Sara willing to undertake massive testing but…

The Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City. MindaNews photo by MANMAN DEJETO

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 9 April) – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said Thursday she was willing to procure several test kits for a massive testing to curb the growing number of Covid-19 patients in the city, but added she was having second thoughts because the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, considered the gold standard test for the detection of the disease, could only process 60 to 65 specimens daily.

“I am very willing to buy testing kits in bulk so that we can do the massive testing. Unfortunately, they can only accommodate 60 to 65 a day. So, we cannot still do it,” she said.

The government-run Southern Philippines Medical Center, recognized by the National Reference Laboratory as a satellite laboratory for Mindanao, also processes specimens from other regions in Mindanao.

Duterte said she also raised the idea of conducting “rapid  testing” with local health authorities using the Food and Drugs Administration-approved rapid antibody test kits.

She, however, said local health authorities insisted that they would still require patients, who manifest symptoms of the infection but have tested negative for Covid-19 with the rapid test, to undergo another test through the PCR machine.

“It (rapid test) is not the direction of our doctors as of now. What we do is that, we leave the decisions (on the testing) to our doctors. We’ll just support their decisions, and we’ll just implement the control measures outside (the hospital),” she said.

She said the rapid test kits are much easier and quicker to use since it works the same as “pregnancy kits” using a drop of the patient’s blood sample, producing results instantly.

“It defeats the purpose of testing because while you have the symptoms and you test negative with the rapid test, you must still undergo the PCR,” she said.

On March 30, the FDA released five approved brands of rapid test kits. These are Nanjing Vazyme 2019-nCoV IgG/IgM Detection Kit, manufactured by Biolidics Limited in Singapore; Novel Coronavirus (2019-NCOV) IgM/IgG Antibody Detection Kit (Colloidal Gold Method), manufactured by Nanjing Vazyme Medical Technology Co., Ltd. in Nanjing, China; Diagnostic Kit for IgM/IgG Antibody to Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) (Colloidal Gold), manufactured by Zhuhai Livzon Diagnostic Inc. in Guangdong Province, China; and 2019-CoV-2 Antibody Test (Lateral Flow Method), manufactured by Guanzhou Wondfo Biotech Co., Ltd. in Guanzhou, China

According to the Department of Health-Davao, the Davao Region reported 86 Covid-19 patients. Davao City reported 69, Davao del Norte 10, Davao del Sur 2, Davao de Oro 2, Davao Oriental 3, and Davao Occidental 0.

Of the total number of Covid-19 patients, 40 have already recovered and 13 died. (Antonio L. Colina IV/MindaNews)