By Jel Santos
The second coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing center of the Philippines Red Cross (PRC) was opened on Tuesday, days after the first testing facility of the organization was opened to the public.
Half of the PRC Logistics and Multi-Purpose Center, which is located behind the Red Cross headquarters in Mandaluyong City, was turned into a molecular laboratory to double the testing capacity.
PRC chairman Richard Gordon stressed the importance of getting tested, saying it is potent to know if a person had contracted COVID-19 in order to give supportive medication.
“We do have a plan in the Red Cross to make sure that we are able to know the enemy. It is very important to unmask this enemy. We cannot win a war without knowing who the enemy is,” he said. “That’s why from day one, we were thinking of testing people here in Red Cross. Once you do that, you can isolate, after tracing. Then we can start healing, and we can start loosening up, we can get back to business as soon as possible.”
The PRC chairman said that with four machines, the new testing center can run up to 4,000 tests per day, like the first facility, and will also be operated by 18 medical technicians working on a three-shift basis.
“Each machine is capable of running up to 1,200 tests, theoretically, but I’ll be happy with 800 or 500 in the beginning. When they become more proficient, we can get at least 1,000 each machine per day. I’m happy that the RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) has sent us 1,000 samples. We were able to finish them right away,” he said.
On the other hand, Gordon has lauded and thanked business groups, the Australian government, the International Committee of the Red Cross, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, and other international organizations for their generosity which enabled the PRC to build the facilities.
Among the groups the PRC cited were the Ayala Group of Companies, which provided skilled manpower to retrofit the two molecular laboratories; Megaworld, Okada, Metrobank, Security Bank, Nestle, BPI, Puregold, Liwayway Corporations, Rebisco, Nickel Asia, Bloomberry, among others.
“I can’t thank them enough and a lot of other people have donated, some in kind. We’re putting all the donations together. The Ayala Group were the ones who retrofitted the laboratories. They put in their construction people, who are good in putting all the equipment together, including the negative pressure. This one was completed in five days,” he said.