By Shirley Matias Pizarro
BALANGA – The province of Bataan has continued to register encouraging recovery statistics in the wake of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic with only three active cases left as of Wednesday, June 3.
In all, the number of COVID-19 cases in the province was at 151, with 139 having recovered from the disease, and nine deaths.
Angel Lara, head of the Bataan Provincial Information Office (PIO) confirmed the latest recoveries were that of a 27-year-old female from the municipality of Limay, and a 44-year-old female from Balanga City. She said they were still waiting for the outcome of 162 tests, while 55 new tests came out negative Tuesday night.
Although Bataan cannot be declared COVID-19 free as of yet, Governor Albert S. Garcia expressed optimism that the possibility of “flattening the curve” in the province may come sooner than expected.
“Expanded testing, which has just started in some municipalities, will be in full swing once the 1Bataan-BGHMC PCR Laboratory begins operating this month. The 1Bataan-BGHMC PCR Laboratory has two gold standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machines that can process up to 300 tests per day,” he said.
Currently, Bataan’s COVID-19 testing kits are being processed at the Philippine Red Cross and the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Hospital (JBLMH) in Pampanga by virtue of a memorandum of agreement (MOA) that the provincial government of Bataan signed with them recently. The MOA considerably reduced the time spent waiting for the results to come back as compared to the processing done at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) in Alabang and the Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City.
On top of this, the Bataan General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) has also commenced operation of the GeneXpert Rapid PCR machine given to them by the Department of Health (DOH) that could give a swift analysis of swabbed tests for only 45 minutes with 95 to 97 percent accuracy rate in two hours turn-around time.
BGHMC Chief Dr. Glory Baltazar said they were expecting an additional GeneXpert PCR machine to be delivered to BGHMC in the coming weeks.
BGHMC was earlier designated as an exclusive COVID-19 facility upon the recommendation of the Bataan Inter-Agency Task Force for COVID19, due to the widespread infection experienced by its health workers and staff in the last two months.
Garcia has also ordered the establishment of a systematic Local Contact-Tracing Team (LCCT) in all 11 municipalities and one city in Bataan, to complement all the efforts on mass testing that are being done by the provincial government.
Garcia believes that a coordinated contact-tracing system and an amplified expanded testing capability will render any province most effective to defeat the invisible enemy that is the coronavirus.