CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – Two testing facilities for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) are expected to open in the next few days as it is awaits its final stages for approval, says a regional health official.
Department of Health -10 Regional Director Dr. Adriano Suba-an said the laboratories at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) and the tuberculosis reference center at the DOH-10 regional office will be utilized for the testing of suspected COVID-19 cases.
The local Philippine National Red Cross (PNRC) office and the private hospital Polymedic Medical Plaza have also been identified as COVID-19 testing sites.
Suba-an said two testing machines, provided by the city government, have already been installed at the DOH-10 laboratory, while the NMMC has been granted its license to operate by the health department last May 13.
The NMMC laboratory is awaiting testing machine cartridges that will be used in a machine previously used for TB detection that is now re-calibrated for COVID-19 testing.
Polymedic has passed the third stage of accreditation, which includes the training of medical personnel on operating the testing machines.
Both the DOH and NMMC laboratories are now on stage 4, which requires proficiency training for specialists conducting the testing.
Personnel must have experience in handling at least five COVID-19 patients before they can pass the fourth stage.
Stage 5, the last step for accreditation involves testing of five positive samples.
“The laboratory will first need to test five positive samples as confirmed by RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) before proceeding to full-scale implementation,” Saguba-an said.
The city government has also given two testing machines to DOH-10 to serve neighboring regions of Northern Mindanao.
Cagayan de Oro Mayor Oscar Moreno said these testing centers will cater to parts of Lanao del Norte, Zamboanga del Norte, Zamboanga del Sur, and provinces in the Caraga region that are near the city.
“We must anticipate that there will be more testing to be done here,” said NMMC epidemiologist Dr. Bernard Rocha, pointing out that Cagayan de Oro will join the cities of Davao and Zamboanga as the centers for COVID-19 testing in Mindanao catering to the island’s six regions.
The decision to open the city’s test laboratories to other areas, he said, is to “capacitate the testing mechanism of our region, as we endeavor to loosen the economy to where it was prior to COVID-19.” (davaotoday.com)