GenSan’s virus test lab to arrive Friday

General Santos City. Photo courtesy of General Santos CIty FB page

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 28 May) – The city government was moving a step closer towards the operationalization of its proposed testing center for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), with the delivery on Friday of its containerized biosafety level 2 laboratory.

Dr. Ryan Aplicador, chief of the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital, said the testing laboratory was scheduled to arrive around 1 p.m. Friday at the Makar wharf here aboard a cargo vessel.

“It will be transferred immediately to the prepared site at the back of the city hospital compound,” he told reporters.

Once the facility was in place, he said it will undergo inspection and assessment by the Department of Health (DOH) and prepare for the fourth stage of the accreditation process.

He was referring to the trial testing and calibration in collaboration with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

The first three stages cover the application, installation of the laboratory and the training of personnel. The fifth or final stage will be the start of the actual testing using reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR).

The testing laboratory, which has a base cost of PHP15 million, was assembled in Cebu by a company recommended by the DOH and RITM.

The city government had allotted some PHP19 million for the purchase of medicine and laboratory supplies, including an initial 5,000 RT-PCR test kits.

City Mayor Ronnel Rivera said the National Task Force (NTF) against COVID-19 has committed to help fast track the approval and operationalization of the facility to increase Region 12 or Soccsksargen’s testing capacity for COVID-19.

NTF chief implementer Sec. Carlito Galvez and his deputy, Sec. Vince Dizon, met with members of the Soccsksargen Regional Inter-Agency Task Force here on Tuesday to assess the area’s COVID-19 response initiatives.

He said among those discussed was the fast tracking of the accreditation of the proposed testing centers in the city and South Cotabato.

The NTF commended the city for taking the lead in establishing a testing laboratory for the region, he said.

The collected swabs from suspect COVID-19 patients in the region were being tested at the newly-accredited PCR laboratory of the Cotabato Regional Medical Center (CRMC) in Cotabato City.

CRMC, which uses a genexpert machine with a daily capacity of 72 tests, also caters to the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao.

DOH-12 said it will be adding two more genexpert machines for the facility in the next two weeks to increase its daily testing capacity to 200.

The proposed testing center here may process 200 tests per day while the South Cotabato facility, which is being set up at the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center in Koronadal City, could accommodate 72 more, eventually bringing the region’s projected daily testing capacity to nearly 500. (MindaNews)