Sara Duterte: Massive testing in Davao City hampered by lab’s capacity to process samples

Published April 9, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Antonio Colina IV

DAVAO CITY – Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte said on April 9, Thursday, that she is willing to procure several test kits for the “massive testing” to curb the growing number of patients infected with the novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Davao City.

Mayor Sara Duterte (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)
Mayor Sara Duterte (Facebook / MANILA BULLETIN)

In her live interview over Davao City Disaster Radio (DCDR) 87.5 on Thursday, Duterte said that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine, that is considered as the gold standard test for the detection of COVID-19 infection, could only process 60 to 65 specimens daily.

“I am very willing to buy testing kits in bulk so that we can do the massive testing. Unfortunately, they can only accommodate 60 to 65 a day. So, we cannot still do it,” she said. The government-run SPMC, recognized by the National Reference Laboratory as a satellite laboratory for Mindanao, also processes specimens from other regions in Mindanao.

Duterte said she also raised the idea of conducting “rapid testing” with the health authorities here using the Food and Drugs Administration-approved rapid antibody test kits. She also said that the local health authorities insisted that they would still require patients, who manifest symptoms of the infection but have tested negative for Covid-19 with the rapid test, to undergo another test through the PCR machine.

“It (rapid test) is not the direction of our doctors as of now. What we do is that we leave the decisions (on the testing) to our doctors. We’ll just support their decisions, and we’ll just implement the control measures outside (the hospital),” she said.

She said the rapid test kits are easier and quicker to use since they work the same as “pregnancy kits,” using a drop of the patient’s blood and producing results instantly. “It defeats the purpose of testing because while you have the symptoms and you test negative with the rapid test, you must still undergo the PCR,” she said.

According to the Department of Health-Davao, the Davao Region reported 86 Covid-19 patients: Davao City reported 69, Davao del Norte 10, Davao del Sur 2, Davao de Oro 2, Davao Oriental 3, and Davao Occidental 0. Out of the total number of Covid-19 patients, there are 13 deaths and 40 recoveries.