Iloilo blackouts affect COVID-19 testing in Panay Island

Published June 25, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Tara Yap

ILOILO CITY—Power interruptions here have affected the diagnostic testing for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Panay Island.

The testing of COVID-19 specimens at Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC), the hospital managed by the Department of Health (DOH) in Iloilo City, was cut by more than half.

Dr. Stephanie Abello, chief pathologist of WVMC, admitted that it only tested 400 specimens from the target of 1,000 specimens during the more than 12-hour blackout that hit Mandurriao district last June 20-21.

Abello explained that the automated machine for the swab specimens could not fully function when hooked to a power generator.

The WVMC laboratory currently tests COVID-19 specimens from Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, and Iloilo provinces as well as Iloilo City.

Aside from the automated machine for the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing, the blackouts also affect access to the bio-safety cabinet.

“It is very dangerous to our medical technologists and other staff when there is no stable power supply,” Abello pointed out.

The WVMC had requested MORE Power to install a separate transformer for the laboratory to ensure that it can still proceed with testing specimens if another technical problem occurs.