GenSan to start operating COVID-19 testing by 3rd week of June

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 04 June) — The city government is targeting to finally operate its testing center for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in two weeks or by the third week of the month.

Mayor Ronnel Rivera on Thursday said the city’s modular testing laboratory was already set up at the back of the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital (DJPRH) compound and will soon undergo assessment for accreditation.

He said the Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) biosafety level 2 laboratory arrived from Cebu at a private port here on Wednesday morning and was immediately transferred to the designated site.

Dr. Ryan Aplicador, the chief of hospital of the Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital (DJPRH) and deputy task force commander of the local Inter Agency Task Force (IATF) gives a walk-through of how General Santos City’s Modular RT- PCR BioSafety Level 2 Laboratory works. The testing laboratory is set to operate later this month after a final inspection and assessment of the Department of Health. Photo courtesy of the FB page of the General Santos City government

The arrival of the facility was delayed for several days due to problems with the commissioned cargo vessel.

“We’re now fast tracking the compliance of the other remaining requirements so we can fully operate it hopefully by the third week of June,” Rivera said in a radio interview.

The mayor said the laboratory underwent thorough inspection from members of the city’s Inter-Agency Task Force on the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases (IAT-MEREID) upon arrival.

The facility, which has a base cost of  15 million pesos, was acquired by the local government from a company recommended by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the Department of Health (DOH).

It was housed in assembled container vans and has a specimen receiving area and rooms for specimen intake and data recording.

A briefer released by the city government said the laboratory includes a compliant and quality RT-PCR machine and the necessary equipment, reagents and supplies required for COVID-19 molecular diagnostics.

Dubbed “a one-stop solution to deliver a molecular diagnostic testing capacity” for the city, it said the facility is compliant with the DOH standards for biosafety level 2.

It has a unidirectional workflow and the “design applies multiple safety precautions to reduce biosafety risks and compliant with DOH standards,” it said.

Rivera said the assigned medical technologists were already undergoing training for the conduct of COVID-19 testing and required safety protocol at the Southern Philippines Medical Center laboratory in Davao City.

He said the training was in preparation for the proficiency testing or the fourth of the five-stage process for the laboratory’s accreditation.

“They will be evaluated by RITM if they can handle the laboratory and (after that) we can start our operation,” he added.  (MindaNews)