Agusan Sur LGU eyes COVID-19 testing lab by October

PROSPERIDAD, Agusan del Sur (MindaNews / 17 June) – The provincial government here will set up in October this year a P69-million molecular laboratory with staff quarter that will serve as testing center for coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

The Agusan del Sur provincial capitol in Prosperidad. MindaNews file photo by BOBBY TIMONERA

Gov. Santiago Cane Jr. revealed this move during his State-of-the-Province Address (SOPA) on Tuesday at the Datu Lipus Makapandong Cultural Center, saying the testing facility will help mitigate the spread of the dreaded COVID-19 from spreading in the province.

He delivered his SOPA as highlight activity during the celebration of Agusan del Sur’s 53rd founding anniversary, which used to be culmination of the traditional six-day Naliyagan Festival celebrated here with pomp and revelry for the last 27 years. It was, however, cancelled this year due to the COVID-19 threat.

The governor said the funding for the establishment of the testing laboratory was approved through a Sangguniang Panlalawigan resolution and a letter of intent was sent to the Department of Health for the approval.

Aside from the testing center, the provincial government will buy 14 fully equipped patient vehicle transport with an P18-million fund that will be distributed to the 13 towns and Bayugan City in the province.

The vehicles will be used solely for transporting patients who are either suspect, probable or positive cases.

The fully air-conditioned Datu Lipus Makapandong Covered Court inside the D.O. Plaza Sports Complex will be utilized as additional isolation facility for COVID-19 patients.

So far, Agusan del Sur has three positive cases of COVID-19. One is a returning overseas Filipino worker and the other a locally stranded individual.

“This is important to immediately determine through swab test results any local resident found to be COVID-19-positive,” Cane told local media men in an interview after his SOPA.

He said if DOH can give the go-signal early for the setting up of the testing laboratory, they expect the facility will be completed by October and can be operational by December this year.

“We cannot afford to gamble the lives of the residents in this province, so we need these facilities to be serving them the soonest possible time,” Cane said. (Chris V. Panganiban / MindaNews)