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Sunday, December 4, 2022

Butuan mayor: City’s COVID-19 testing laboratory on ‘final stage’ of completion

MALAYBALAY CITY, Bukidnon (PIA)–Mayor Ronnie Lagnada of Butuan City said a Molecular Diagnostics (MolDx) Laboratory or a Biosafety Laboratory Level 2 being established in Caraga region’s capital city may be up and running soon.

In an interview during the Laging Handa Network Briefing radio program of Communications Secretary Martin M. Andanar over Radyo Pilipinas and PTV, Mayor Lagnada said setting up of MolDx lab in Butuan City is a big help in the government’s fight against the deadly coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

“Having a Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory will ensure faster and accurate results for collected specimens of patients from Caraga region because up to now, obtaining test results is substantially delayed as it still have to be brought to Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City that is already swamped with the demands of Davao region alone,” Lagnada said.

He emphasized that having this MolDx laboratory or a Biosafety Level 2 facility, through Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) testing of suspected COVID-19 cases will effectively reduce the burden and backlog of the already whelmed testing laboratories in Davao, Cebu, and the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH–RITM) testing center in Metro Manila.

When asked when the said COVID-19 testing laboratory could be in operation, the mayor said, “it is now on its final stage of completion.”

He announced that currently, the infrastructure is already in place; groups of medical technologies and laboratory personnel are undergoing intensive training; and the already procured laboratory apparatus and equipment are being evaluated.

“In fact, a composite team from DOH and other health authorities came to evaluate the prerequisites in operating a COVID-19 testing center as required by the DOH-RITM and World Health Organization,” he added.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Singh-Vergiere of the Health Regulation Team, meanwhile, reiterated in her nationwide TV and broadcast interviews that Molecular Diagnostics laboratories to be established by local government units (LGUs) must first undergo proper evaluation and proficiency tests.

She explained that laboratories handling COVID-19 samples must be capable of performing molecular diagnostics in terms of infrastructure, personnel, apparatus, and quality assurance.

As one of the most evolving areas of diagnostics, Usec Vergiere said that MolDx through PCR testing requires a Biosafety Level 2 facility, laboratory staff fully-trained on test procedures and biosafety, specialized equipment and instruments, and established quality assurance protocols that guarantee the accuracy of results. She pointed out that inadequacy in any of these prerequisites might lead to inaccurate results, possible infection of laboratory personnel, and the contamination of collected samples and the immediate testing environment.

Given the DOH’s methodical requirements in operating a testing laboratory for COVID-19, mayor Lagnada said Butuan City has conformed to all the specified conditions.

“While there are only two confirmed cases in Caraga region as of May 26, the number of ‘Probable’ and ‘Suspect’ cases for COVID-19 is continuously rising. The recent rapid tests also revealed some presumptive positive cases that need immediate confirmatory tests. Hence, establishing this Molecular Diagnostics (MolDx) Laboratory or Biosafety Laboratory Level 2 will enable us to have mass testing in the expansive Caraga Region, which is composed of five provinces and six cities with remotely situated towns,” Lagnada said. (RLRB/PIA Bukidnon)