By Hannah Torregoza
The Philippine Red Cross will open a bio-molecular laboratory at its logistics and training center located inside the Subic Bay Freeport Zone, Sen. Richard Gordon announced on Sunday.
Gordon, PRC chairman and CEO, said the laboratory aims to stop the further spread of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 disease in Zambales and its neighboring provinces.
The laboratory, which has already been completed and awaiting proficiency testing by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for accreditation, was built with the support of donors and the Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA), along with medicines.
“Our aim is to ensure victory over the virus. We have to unmask the unseen enemy so we could isolate and treat those who are infected and prevent the further spread of the disease. That’s why we are setting up several laboratories across the country,” Gordon said.
Once the facility becomes operational, health workers from the SBMA, headed by Atty. Amy Eisma, will conduct the swabbing and encoding at the SBF’s Main Gate while the actual testing of the specimens will be done in the PRC laboratory.
According to Gordon, the soon to be opened facility in Subic is also equipped with an automated RNA extraction machine and two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines, which can complete up to a total of 2,000 tests combined.
Gordon said there is a need to conduct testing in these areas to know the extent of the COVID-19 situation in the province as there are already 16 confirmed cases in Zambales, 11 in Olongapo and 110 in Bataan this month.
“Kailangan malaman natin kung nasaan ang kalaban para hindi na dumami ang bilang ng mga mahahawaan (We need to know where the enemy is to stop it from spreading and prevent more infection). And with the SBMA supporting our cause, we are sure to achieve this goal,” he said.
At the same time, Gordon said the PRC, in partnership with ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo, is launching a weekly program entitled, “Lingkod Aksyon Para sa Kapamilya.”
The program would be hosted by Gordon and journalist Henry Omaga-Diaz. According to the lawmaker, the program aims to inform the public of the current events and engage them in discussing significant issues that affect the people, to provide assistance to those who are in need and give them hope amid the COVID-19 pandemic that has affected many Filipinos.
“The Philippine Red Cross is always first, always ready, always there to help the needy especially during crises,” he said.
“Through ‘Lingkod Aksyon’, we wish to reach the most vulnerable, make them aware of different happenings across the country and be a channel in providing assistance during these difficult times,” Gordon stressed.