GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 15 June) — A modern laboratory that will have the capability to test various emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, including the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), will soon rise in Sarangani province.
Dr. Arvin Alejandro, head of the Sarangani health office, said the initial preparations are underway for the establishment of the laboratory, which will be funded through a PHP35 million grant from the Department of Health (DOH).
He said the approval and funding of the project was relayed last week by the agency to the local government, through Gov. Steve Chiongbian Solon.
“It is a molecular biology center that we can also use for COVID-19 testing,” he said in a statement.
The official said the grant was part of the national government’s commitment to the province, being one of the 33 pilot areas in the country for the implementation of the Universal Health Care Act.
The assistance includes the improvement and upgrading of the province’s health care facilities, including the Sarangani Health Care Facility situated at the provincial capitol compound in Alabel town.
Alejandro said the funds will be downloaded by the Department of Budget and Management to the DOH, which will implement the project.
DOH has not required a counterpart funding from the provincial government but will manage the facility through its own medical personnel, he said.
Alejandro said the establishment of the molecular biology center will be a huge boost to the continuing efforts to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the province, which already recorded three confirmed cases.
“It would allow us to process and test swab samples for COVID-19 and other diseases much faster,” he said.
The provincial government previously sent collected swab samples from the area to the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City for testing, with the results coming out in three to five days.
Since last week, it was sending swab samples to the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center, the newly-opened partner testing laboratory of the provincial government of South Cotabato in Koronadal City.
Of the three Covid-19 cases in Sarangani, two were classified as active and one has already fully recovered.
The latest case, which was confirmed last Saturday, was a returning 28-year-old overseas Filipino worker from Alabel town who returned home from Manila last June 10.
A 23-year-old student from Glan town who arrived from Cebu last May 31 was also confirmed positive of Covid-19 on June 11. (MindaNews)