GENERAL SANTOS CITY – The city government is targeting to increase by next month the testing capacity for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) of its newly-accredited molecular laboratory to 200 tests per day.
Dr. Ryan Aplicador, deputy incident commander of the city’s Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging and Re-emerging Infectious Diseases, said Monday they are currently working on the acquisition of an automated extractor to further speed up the processes at the laboratory.
He said the National Task Force (NTF) against Covid-19, through “testing czar” Secretary Vince Dizon, promised to assist the local government in acquiring the machine, which is considered a new technology and not common among existing laboratories.
“The NTF said it can help us get the machine and this is now being worked out so we ramp up our testing to 200 a day within one month,” he said in a radio interview.
Dizon and other members of the NTF’s Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic or CODE team visited the city on Thursday last week to assist efforts to contain the rising cases of Covid-19 local transmission.
During the visit, the team handed over the official copy of the laboratory’s accreditation, which was issued by the Department of Health on Sept. 14.
It also delivered some 5,000 testing kits for the laboratory to augment its initial standby stocks of 7,000 units.
Aplicador said the modular testing laboratory already started running Covid-19 tests last Saturday at an initial capacity of 25 per day.
He said they will maintain such number until the end of the week to give their medical technologists some time to familiarize with the processes and eventually avoid possible glitches.
Its testing rate will be increased gradually starting next week until it reaches the maximum of 96 tests per day without an automated extractor, he said.
The official said the higher capacity for the laboratory will allow the local government to cope with the demand for testing of suspected Covid-19 patients and their identified close contacts.
Swab samples collected from residents are also being processed at the St. Elizabeth Hospital’s laboratory here and the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City.
The confirmed Covid-19 cases in the city since March already reached a total of 248 as of Monday morning, with eight related deaths and 89 recoveries.
Forty-five of the 151 active cases were only recorded over the weekend along with 12 recoveries. (PNA)