CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, Philippines – Testing for coronavirus (COVID-19) in the city is expected to start soon using equipment provided by the city government, health officials said Monday.

The real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) machine was purchased by the city government which will be used by the Department of Health-10 (DOH-10) and the state-run Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC).

During Monday’s press briefing, Dr. Bernard Rocha of the NMMC said the testing kit can do as much as 36 tests per day.

“We can test three swab samples in one hour and based on DOH guidelines we can operate the gene expert machine for 12 to 16 hours a day depending on our supply of cartridges provided by the DOH who had an arrangement with once company,” Rocha said.

He said they are still waiting for the issuance of a license to operate from the DOH before they can start to conduct the tests.

Mayor Oscar Moreno said the testing machines will decongest the testing at the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC), the only hospital in Mindanao to this date that is accredited to conduct COVID-19 tests.

The mayor said SPMC has been burdened with swab samples sent from Zamboanga Region.

The city government has also provided DOH-10 the Bio-Rad CFX96 Touch Real-Time Detection System, an American-made equipment considered as the gold standard for COVID-19 laboratory equipment.

Another machine, Applied Biosystem Real-Time 7500 PCR, set to arrive soon, will be used by the NMMC.

Dr. Joselito Retuya, an epidemiologist at the City Health Office, said they will meet with the DOH-10 officials to discuss guidelines on whether they will conduct a city-wide prevalence survey, rapid diagnostic tests, or targeted rapid diagnostic tests for identified barangays in the next few days.

“We already started testing in Barangays Lumbia and Carmen, especially on persons displaying symptoms of influenza-like illness,” Retuya said.

Both Lumbia and Carmen have one case of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) each who recently died.

At present, the city has seven confirmed COVID-19 cases, with four deaths, one recovery, and two still on quarantine. (

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