By Aira Genesa Magdayao
PUERTO PRINCESA CITY, Palawan — A COVID-19 testing center would soon open at the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) in Puerto Princesa City.
Dr. Mary Ann Navarro, chief of the Provincial Health Office (PHO), said in an online press briefing Wednesday that ONP’s bid for certification will expedite the test result waiting time down to two hours less compared to the more than one week when sending samples to Metro Manila.
“Magandang balita dahil mago-operate na ang ONP. Ang result ay makukuha two hours or less kaysa ang sa Manila, 24 to 48 hours pero dumadating one week or more,” Navarro said.
Navarro said the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is set to grant ONP’s license to operate on May 14 and will be allowed to conduct testing anytime.
“May bibisita para ibigay ang license. Ito ang final procedure, pero pinayagan na sila [magoperate] dahil certified na ng RITM. Anytime, pwede na sila mag-test. Hindi na tayo magpapadala sa Manila, sa ONP na lang,” Navarro added.
On April 21, Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque issued Memorandum No. 2020-0191 on April 21, which said that the GeneXpert machine, which was commonly used for tuberculosis (TB) culture laboratory, was certified by the Food and Drug Association (FDA) on March 26. The machine will be repurposed for COVID-19 testing by utilizing Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 cartridges.
“‘Yong dating ginagamit natin for tuberculosis ay gagamitin ngayon for COVID-19 detection,” Navarro said.
ONP hospital director Dr. Melecio Dy said that their license to operate remains pending as of now.
The facility needs to undertake several test and assessment after the completion of necessary technical requirements.
“We will know the response of the licensing office. We have complied [with] the technical aspect of the facility requirement,” Dy said.
Palawan Governor Jose Alvarez recently said that they have already allocated an amount of P122 million for the purchase of medical equipment, medicines, and other supplies.
Puerto Princesa City Mayor Lucilo Bayron was also granted with the authority to dispense some P472 million calamity fund by the City Council through Resolution No. 0452-2020 issued during a special session on March 20.