SouthCot to increase COVID-19 testing capacity

GENERAL SANTOS CITY (MindaNews / 17 Feb) – The provincial government of South Cotabato is set to increase its testing capacity for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) as it moves to curb the surge in confirmed cases in the area since last month.

South Cotabato Gov. Reynaldo Tamayo Jr. disclosed the move as he announced the delivery last Monday of around P4.9 million worth of laboratory supplies acquired by the local government for its partner testing center in Koronadal City.

He said it comprised some 2,770 cartridges and 27,700 test kits intended for the GenXpert machines installed at the medical laboratory of the Dr. Arturo P. Pingoy Medical Center.

The governor said the arrival of the additional test kits mainly allows the Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) to expand the COVID-19 testing, through Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction method, in communities that recently recorded increases in new infections.

He said the move will ensure the immediate detection of new cases and allow health workers to implement the necessary measures.

“We can now make our interventions faster while waiting for the arrival of the vaccines,” he said.

Tamayo said the expanded testing will mainly cover residents who have had possible exposure to COVID-19, especially those identified as close contacts of confirmed cases, and currently undergoing mandatory quarantine in local government-supported facilities.

He said the conclusive results could help reduce the number of suspect COVID-19 cases and eventually clear them out from the remaining isolation and quarantine centers in the area.

It will enable local government units (LGUs) to give more attention on managing the confirmed cases, he said.

“We will test everyone to lessen the burden of our LGUs [in maintaining the isolation and quarantine facilities] and allow them to instead focus on the purchase of the vaccines,” Tamayo said.

The governor said they are ready to acquire more test kits and cartridges to sustain the expanded COVID-19 testing in the province.

He said they started negotiating with suppliers as early as December last year, among them with Macare Medicals, Inc., the exclusive supplier and distributor of GeneXpert machines in the country.

The local government was able to purchase the cartridges, with each inclusive of 10 test kits, at P1,800 per unit, he said.

As of Tuesday morning, the confirmed COVID-19 cases in the province already reached a total of 1,486 and with 39 related deaths, but 1,302 or 87.6 percent of the patients have fully recovered.

The current 145 active cases included the 58 inmates and two personnel of the Koronadal City police station who tested positive of the disease since last week.

A report released by the IPHO showed that the COVID-19 infections in the province increased to 188 last January after dropping to just 160 in December last year.

From Feb. 1 to 14, it already recorded a total of 125 new cases, within the highest daily surge reported last Feb. 12 at 45 infections. (MindaNews)