Lanao Norte to open P30-M biomolecular COVID-19 testing laboratory

KAPATAGAN, Lanao del Norte (MindaNews / 20 August) – The provincial government of Lanao del Norte will soon operate a P30-million biomolecular COVID-19 testing laboratory to process swab samples from persons suspected of infection through Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction process.

One of the 64 locally stranded individuals from Cebu City who arrive at the seaport in Iligan City on 17 June 2020 undergoes temperature check upon disembarkation. They include residents of Iligan City (29), Lanao del Sur (23), Lanao del Norte (7) and Misamis Oriental (5). MindaNews photo by RICHEL V. UMEL

“We are conducting inspection and evaluation of the testing laboratory as per authorization and in behalf of DOH Health Services Regulatory Bureau with the partnership of Research Institute of Tropical Medicine and the World Health Organization,” Dr. Cherryl Balane, chief of the Regulation Licensing Enforcement Division of the Department of Heath Region 10 told MindaNews Friday.

Balane said the laboratory can start doing tests once the DOH Central Office approves its license to operate.

Gov. Imelda Quibranza-Dimaporo said the laboratory had been planned as early as March during a meeting with DOH.

Dimaporo said the P30-million budget for the laboratory came from President Duterte’s Bayanihan Grant.

Balane said it would be the biggest testing laboratory in Region 10 and the first to be owned and operated by a local government unit.

She said the inspection covered the various aspects of its physical setup, equipment, personnel compliment and management policy.

Its medical technologists have already passed a proficiency test at the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, and its medical personnel will undergo fitness training to prevent infection of the virus, she added.

Dra. Lilibeth Galbinez, molecular laboratory analyst and chief of the testing facility said the waiting time for the result would be reduced once it becomes operational.

Galbinez said the laboratory could address the rise in local transmission of COVID-19, as it can release 60 to 100 test results in less than 48 hours.

“We usually send swab samples to Northern Mindanao Medical Center and wait for the result for the next four to five days,” she said.

Acting Provincial Health Officer Dr. Teresa Reponte said the facility will have two ambulances.

As of August 18, the official report signed by Reponte said that of the province’s 198 COVID-19 cases, 89 are active cases 25 of which are local transmissions, while 108 have recovered and one died.

Reponte attributed the “high recovery rate” to early detection. (Richel V. Umel/MindaNews)