Thankful that Manila now has its own COVID-19 test lab

Published June 28, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin



Mayor Isko Moreno
Mayor Isko Moreno

Before anything else, I would like to express my profuse gratitude to the Department of Health (DOH), headed by the indefatigable Secretary Francisco Duque III and the national government under the stewardship of our dear President Rodrigo Duterte, for having granted us in the
city of Manila the much-awaited License to Operate (LTO) our very own testing laboratory for COVID-19 cases.

Dr. Grace Padilla, director of the Sta. Ana Hospital which houses the Manila Infectious Disease Control Center (MIDCC) that handles COVID-19 patients, excitedly handed over to me and Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna the LTO on Thursday, as soon as she got hold of it, knowing how much we both wanted it. The testing laboratory is where swab test samples will be brought for analysis and confirmation whether or not the one tested is positive for the coronavirus.

It took about five weeks for the LTO to finally come out, after we were able to fully comply with all the requirements.

We wasted no time and right there and then, asked Dr. Padilla to conduct a dry-run among the in-patients of the MIDCC. Currently, there are at least 50 patients who are confirmed to have been infected with COVID-19 and who are now being taken care of at
the MIDCC.

We will be utilizing the remaining days of the month for the dry-run of our new testing laboratory so that we may already be able to go full blast by next month.

Dr. Padilla told me that a total of 60 to 70 patients may be subjected to swab tests per shift, so that a total of 120 patients, more or less, may be accommodated by health personnel conducting the swab tests, in two shifts. The entire confirmatory test may be finished
in about an hour and a half and the results can be known within the day.

We are truly thankful to Secretary Duque and President Duterte for boosting the city government’s efforts to contain and treat the COVID patients in Manila.

The grant of the LTO is the culmination of our numerous efforts to address the problems brought on by the coronavirus that continues to claim lives even as of this writing.

Since the national health emergency began months ago, the city of Manila, through the efforts of our Manila Health Department headed by Dr. Arnold ‘Poks’ Pangan, has embarked on an aggressive program to test as many as possible so that they may be identified and then isolated or contained and thwart community transmission.

This we followed up with the establishment of 12 quarantine facilities, spread all over the six districts of the city. Way ahead of the targeted completion date, we were fortunate enough to have met our set quota and even went beyond it, at a date which was much earlier than

From my original plan of 400 bed capacity, we were able to come up with over 500 beds. In those quarantine facilities, Manilans who turn positive in the rapid testing will be
brought and swabbed.

It is also there where they are supposed to await the result of the swab test done on them. From here on comes the most challenging part.

The samples of the swab tests are then brought to a testing laboratory, using the real time reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction (real time RT–PCR), which is one of the most accurate laboratory methods for detecting, tracking and studying the coronavirus.

The city spends at least P10 million a month for the entire swab tests alone up to the time that the results come out. Each confirmatory test that entails the whole process costs P5,000 to P8,000 and it is quite a drain on the city government’s funds, which is why we decided to have our own testing laboratory.

Given the huge population of our city which runs to about two million — we have at least 670,000 families, based on the number of quarantine passes issued — we will certainly need more of these labs to accommodate more residents who are positive in the rapid tests that we continually conduct. It is for this reason that we are actually currently building two more testing laboratories.

As I’ve said, having obtained the LTO caps our efforts against COVID-19, in accordance with the city government’s CODE (contain and delay)-COVID 19 program which is precisely why we are very thankful.

But then again, the key to putting an end to the pandemic is discipline among the people. If we do not continue following prescribed protocols like wearing face masks, sanitizing our hands as much as possible, and observing proper physical distancing, all these
efforts will be put to naught.

Gaya ng paulit-ulit kong sinasabi, kailangan ko ang tulong ninyong lahat. Walang mag mamalasakit sa Maynila kundi tayo ding mga Batang Maynila. Manila, God first!

For updates on latest developments in the city of Manila, please visit my Facebook account — “IskoMoreno Domagoso.”