By Ben Rosario
The private sector’s Project ARK bid to boost government’s COVID-19 testing capacity through its PCR initiative is right on schedule in guaranteeing 10,000 RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) tests per day by the end of the month.
House Deputy Minority Leader and Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin said an additional 7,000 RT-PCR tests per day will be available by the end of June, while an increase of 7,000 more will be realized by the end of July.
Project ARK’s target of 24,000 RT-PCR tests daily will be made available in all parts of the country, thus further strengthening the country’s anti-COVID-19 fight by preventing transmission of the disease.
Garin disclosed that in less than one month since the launching of its PCR initiative, Project ARK will be automating 12 laboratories in the following hospitals and health facilities:
1. Cebu Molecular Laboratory
2. Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center
3. Jose B. Lingad Regional Medical Hospital
4. Negros Occidental Provincial Hospital
5. Perpetual Hospital – Las Piñas and Laguna
6. Philippine Children’s Medical Center
7. Western Visayas Medical Center
8. Zamboanga City Medical Center
9. Baguio General Hospital
10. Bicol Public Health
11. Lung Center of the Philippines
12. National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI)
Initiated by businessman and presidential adviser on enterpreneurship Joey Concepcion, Project ARK has also ensured adequate swab testing centers for those who have tested positive for COVID-19 in its Rapid Antibody Testing (RAT) project.
Garin described the RAT project as an “avenue that paved way for contact tracing in areas where there were silent transmissions.”
“This will not be possible without the incomparable efforts of Joey Concepcion and his GoNegosyo team,” said Garin, a former secretary of health.
The opposition solon said the business sector has given tremendous trust and confidence to Concepcion, adding that this has made “a difference.”
“We also thank San Miguel Corporation and Ayala Foundation for their generous assistance to our project. Both foundations together with the Philippine Red Cross have contributed a lot to our country’s COVID response,” Garin said.
She pointed out that RAT has been deemed necessary in the anti-COVID fight because the “DOH algorithm” does not allow asymptomatic persons to undergo RT-PCR, which remains the gold standard in determining whether or not a person is infected.
“When people get tested with RAT and they turn out positive for IgG and IgM despite being asymptomatic, nabibigyan sila ng (they are given a) chance at priority na ma-test (to be tested) for RT-PCR.
“Sa nakikita ko ngayon (From what I see now), both Rapid Antibody Test Kits and RT-PCR have their own strengths and weaknesses,” she explained.
Garin disclosed that in the coming weeks, GoNegosyo, Ayala Foundation, and San Miguel Foundation, together with the House of Representatives, will be activating more laboratories, namely:
1. Adella Serra TY Memorial Medical Center
2. Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center
3. Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory
4. Bohol Gallares Hospital
5. Butuan Medical Center
6. Cagayan De Oro Medical Center
7. Cotabato Regional Medical Center
8. Davao – Southern Philippines Medical Center
9. Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital
10. Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez (Tala) Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium
11. General Santos Medical Center
12. Ilocos Training Regional Medical Center
13. Isabela Doctors General Hospital
14. La Union Medical Center
15.National Center for Mental Health (NCMH)
16. Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC)
17. Ospital ng Palawan
18. Perpetual Hospital – Biñan
19. Quirino Memorial Medical Center
20. San Lazaro Hospital
21. UERM Memorial Medical Center
22. West Visayas State University Medical Center