GenSan begins trial tests for COVID laboratory

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 03 September) – The city government has started the trial tests for its modular molecular laboratory for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) as it moves into the final stage of accreditation.

Dr. Ryan Aplicador, deputy incident commander of the city’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, said in a briefing on Wednesday the trial testing is part of the series of operational training for the facility’s medical technologists.

He said it involves the use of an actual specimen to test the functionality of the laboratory, which is situated at the back of the local government-run Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital.

“The laboratory is now functioning and since we’re already doing the trials, it means that we can already use it, though still unofficial,” he said.

Once the training is complete, Aplicador said they will submit a report to the Department of Health (DOH) and request for the conduct of proficiency testing, which is the final stage of the accreditation process.

He said they expect to complete the process in less than two weeks and start the actual testing.

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 us 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 city government had commissioned a company accredited with the DOH and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine to assemble the P15-million COVID-19 testing laboratory, which was delivered in the first week of June.

City officials initially targeted to operate the facility in the third week of June but it was delayed due to the needed adjustments with its setup.

Aplicador said the laboratory was designed for conventional Polymerase Chain Reaction testing and would deliver the same quality as the cartridge-based Genexpert machines.

Being an “open system,” he said it is more flexible in terms of the availability of testing kits and other required supplies compared to the Genexpert.

He said the latter is considered a “closed system” and only its developer or inventor manufactures and supplies its cartridge.

Aplicador said that was the reason why laboratories using Genexpert, among them the St. Elizabeth Hospital here, were having difficulty acquiring cartridge supplies.

The scarcity of cartridges is currently a problem worldwide and the manufacturer has failed to cope with the orders from the DOH and other local commercial users, he said.

For the city’s testing laboratory, Aplicador said they have a standby supply of 7,000 testing kits and could purchase more if eventually needed.

“Since it is an open system, we can buy testing kits that are readily available in the market as long as they are compatible,” he added. (MindaNews)