In fight vs COVID-19, Lagnada pushes establishment of Caraga’s own virus testing lab

Butuan City Mayor Ronnie Vicente Lagnada is bent on putting up Caraga’s first molecular laboratory, seen as crucial in solving the health crisis prompted by thecoronavirus pandemic. PHOTO/ Butuan PIO

Butuan City Mayor Ronnie Vicente Lagnada has expressed his desire to establish Caraga’s first molecular laboratory which will confirm cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a top health official disclosed Thursday.

Dr. Jose Llacuna Jr., the Department of Health (DOH) regional director, said Lagnada had reached out to him about the establishment of a regional testing center to expedite confirmation of COVID-19 cases.

The health official said Lagnada is really bent on putting up a local government unit (LGU)-run testing laboratory, seen as crucial in solving the health crisis prompted by the coronavirus pandemic.

Iya (Lagnada) gyod desire nga duna tay testing laboratory unya naana siya’s na-contact nga mga suppliers nga iyang palitan so to speak,” he told a local radio.

Llacuna said he would personally facilitate Lagnada’s proposal at the DOH central office and “after which, we will wait for some developments.”

Although the DOH is willing to assist LGUs that are capable of setting up testing centers, Llacuna pointed out the agency, which is a regulatory agency, wants to ensure that similar facilities can strictly comply with its biosafety standards.

“Confirmatory testing for COVID-19 includes certain requirements like Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction based testing kits, Biosafety Level 2 Cabinets, trained Medical Technologists on biohazard safety and the Biohazard Safety Laboratory itself which will cost millions in purchase and more time for proper training before operation,” he said.

To date, Caraga has no testing facility to confirm positive or negative COVID-19 cases. Samples taken from patients had to still be brought to the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City, a DOH-managed hospital, which was earlier identified as a sub-national level testing laboratory.

The distance that samples have to travel to be tested and the volume of swab samples being tested at the SPMC cause delays in the laboratory test results.

As of Thursday, March 26, there were 36 persons under investigation in Caraga. Some were confined in the hospitals, while others were in self-isolation in their homes

Local government units in the region have listed 4,731 persons under monitoring(PUMs), or those showing no symptoms but had traveled to infected places or had contact with infected persons, still being watched. CLC

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