COVID confirmatory testing now in Cotabato City

Facade of CMRC. MindaNews file photo by FERDINANDH B. CABRERA

COTABATO CITY (MindaNews / 21 May) – The Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CMRC) can now conduct confirmatory tests for suspected cases of coronavirus (COVID-19) with the results available within 24 hours from receipt of the specimen.

This after CRMC’s Response Team through the Department of Pathology launched Wednesday in a press conference its laboratory facility after complying with all the requirements for a licensed independent hospital-based COVID-19 testing sub-national laboratory.

After the inspection by the Department of Health Central Office through the Health Facilities Services and Regulatory Bureau, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine, World Health Organization, and DOH 12 Regulation, Licensing, and Enforcement Division, the CRMC facility can now handle 72 specimens on a 12-hour daily operation of their two machines.

CRMC will be using the GeneXpert machine that was also used for testing tuberculosis.

Dr. Helen Yambao, chief of Hospital of CRMC said the test facility will be manned by a squad of medical experts, headed by a molecular pathologist and six staff molecular analysts.

“We will be using the Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2, an FDA-approved RT-PCR testing kit, an acceptable confirmatory testing for SARS-CoV-2 and it can run the test in 45 minutes,” she said.

The laboratory can do 72 tests per day. The hospital currently has 1,134 test kits.

The laboratory is a biosafety level (BSL) 2 laboratory which is equipped with an HVAC system for negative pressure rooms. This means that whatever air that the laboratory releases to the environment is safe for the community.

“We will uphold the highest standard in biosafety and biosecurity in the laboratory,” Yamabao assured.

The testing Laboratory will be accepting specimens of patients from Region 12 and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

CRMC will establish proper channeling and validation of cases, and the only specimens that it will receive are those referred or coursed through the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) of the DOH Regional Office 12 and the Ministry of Health-BARMM.

“We are not going to accept specimens from walk-in patients to CRMC, directly referred by LGUs (local government units), hospitals, and clinics,” the hospital said in a statement.

Only specimens from suspect or probable COVID-19 cases are accepted, and priority testing will be done on critical cases and repeat tests for monitoring of COVID-19 positive cases.

The laboratory is open and accepts specimens from RESU from 8am to 5pm daily, including weekends and holidays.

Results will be reported to and provided only to DOH Central Office and the RESU and will be kept confidential. (Ferdinandh B. Cabrera/MindaNews)