NMMC lab conducts first COVID-19 swab tests in the region

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (MindaNews / 22 May) – The Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) on Thursday said that its new laboratory has successfully processed swab samples for COVID-19 tests, the first in the region.

City health teams disinfect establishments along Cruz Taal, Cagayan de Oro on March 23, 2020 to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). A cancer patient from the city succumbed to COVID-19 at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. MindaNews photo courtesy of City Information Office

NMMC spokesperson Dr. Bernard Rocha said the specimens that were successfully processed included those taken from four patients who were admitted to the hospital this week.

Rocha said it only took an hour to process at the NMMC GeneXpert laboratory the swab tests from the patients.

He said the tests for the patients who were not from Cagayan de Oro showed they were not infected with the virus.

“The tests were processed through real-time reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction tests (RT-PCR),” he said.

Rocha said that with this development, the NMMC laboratory can now accept swab samples taken from all over Northern Mindanao.

He said the hospital received some 1,700 cartridges that were airlifted to Cagayan de Oro last weekend to be used in the tests.

He said the number of tests would rise as soon as the three RT-PCR machines donated by the local government of Cagayan de Oro arrive.

Rocha, however, cautioned residents against expectations that the COVID-19 tests at the NMMC would eradicate the virus.

“What testing does is help us at the NMMC, the Department of Health and City Health Office of Cagayan de Oro City Hall in identifying and isolating the patient, his or her loved ones and the persons who had close contact with the patient, “ he explained.

He said health officials could then proceed with tests targeting infected patients.

Since the cartridges are in short supply globally, Rocha said priority will be given to patients and medical frontliners. (Froilan Gallardo/MindaNews)