DAVAO CITY – A broken molecular laboratory has resulted in a delay and a drop in the report of COVID-19 cases in Davao City.

Last week, daily cases in Davao City ranged around 500 cases daily, but this week it dropped to 255 on September 20 and 242 the next day.

Dr. Michelle Schlosser, Davao City’s COVID task force focal person, attributed this to the malfunctioning of a molecular laboratory extraction machine to run swab specimens at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) which is still under repair.

“As of now, it’s still not repaired yet. Only city-owned molecular labs are functioning,” Dr. Schlosser said.

For now, all specimens are processed through the Los Amigos Molecular laboratory which can only run 450 specimens per day.

Schlosser said the molecular lab in SPMC is expected to be fully operational again by the end of this week or early next week.

Regardless of the delays in the lab tests, Davao City continues to see a surge in COVID-19 cases with 9,329 cases as of September 24, and 3,428 recoveries in Davao City from September 16 to 24.

Adjustments on swab tests have been made by the city’s task force due to the limitation. On Sept. 14, the city government announced that they are temporarily limiting Covid-19 RT-PCR swab testing to close contacts or F1 and the individuals with influenza-like illnesses (ILI).

Individuals who fall in the F2 and F3 category, meanwhile, will be given leeway according to Mayor Duterte, who said she had an internal agreement with health officials on this matter.

The city continues to expand its COVID-19 treatments, and is allowing home care amidst the surge of cases that has remained around 9,000 for the past weeks.

The mayor also said they have expanded management of dead patients as they expect more deaths. Last week, a businessman donated a 40-feet refrigerated container van to serve as an additional mortuary which can accommodate 108 cadavers. A “mass grave” is also readied at Tagakpan Cemetery.

The city has recorded 2,101 cremations since April last week in the city’s crematorium with 22 cadavers on the waitlist since the crematorium can only perform four cremations in a day.

Davao City has recorded 1,464 COVID-19 deaths from 48,257 accumulated cases since the start of the pandemic in March last year.

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