UP Mindanao’s Genome Center to do COVID-19 testing soon

DAVAO CITY (MindaNews / 22 April) – The P120-million Philippine Genome Center Mindanao Satellite Facility (PGC-MSF) of the University of the Philippines-Mindanao (UPMin) is currently undergoing certification to serve as an additional testing laboratory for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Mindanao, Department of Health (DOH)-Davao Region assistant director Joy Rivera said.

University of the Philippines Mindanao in Davao City. Photo from UP Mindanao’s FB page

“The UP lab is undergoing certification and hopefully it will be functional,” Rivera said during a live presser streamed live on PIA’s Facebook page Tuesday.

Once it becomes functional, she said it would improve the capability of the local health authorities to immediately detect the patients who are infected with COVID-19.

She said the country has 17 subnational laboratories conducting the COVID-19 tests, one of which is the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), catering to Mindanao’s six regions.

Rivera said aside from UP Mindanao’s genome center in Tugbok District, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is also coordinating with the Davao Regional Medical Center (DRMC) in Tagum City to have its laboratory capacitated for COVID-19 testing.

She said the UP Mindanao’s state-of-the-art laboratory and DRMC are among the 14 facilities in the country that are being prepared to function as independent testing laboratories.

Dr. Maria Elinore Concha, SPMC chief training officer, added that the hospital has two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines but the other one is for backup.

“The process of testing is not as simple as putting the sample in the machine and it would be ready right away. We need to extract the DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) for testing and we need to do that in a safe manner. That’s why the entire process takes time,” she said.

Concha said it would help if other areas in Mindanao would have their own testing facilities to hasten the detection of positive patients.

“It would help Davao Region and the entire Mindanao to widen the testing because that is one of the parameters of the [World Health Organization] – massive testing – before the lifting of the quarantine,” she said.

The DOH-Davao recorded five new confirmed cases, which brought the total to 113 in Davao Region. The agency also recorded 59 recoveries. (Antonio L. Colina IV / MindaNews)