BACOLOD CITY – The first hospital-based level 3 molecular laboratory for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in the Philippines officially opened at Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) here.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia, Bacolod Rep. Greg Gasataya, Department of Health (DOH) Western Visayas Director Dr. Marlyn Convocar, and Dr. Julius Drilon, medical chief of the CLMMRH, led the inauguration of the COVID-19 laboratory on Saturday.
Leonardia said that the biolab was a more effective way to fight COVID-19. “We have long waited for this, and it’s now a reality,” he added.
Leonardia underscored the protocols of “test, trace, and treat” in the fight against COVID-19.
With the opening of the laboratory, Leonardia said that CLMMRH could undertake more testings, and people can expect speedy release of results. “Therefore, we can do contact-tracing as soon as possible in order to contain the virus, the mayor added.
“Let us look forward to a stronger fight against COVID,” the local chief executive said.
Leonardia said that Bacolod’s COVID-19 situation was still manageable, despite the fact that the city is the most populous in the region.
“But it doesn’t mean the game is over, the fight is still on,” he stressed.
According to Drilon, the biolab cost almost P30 million for building renovation and the equipment.
The city government appropriated P20 million, P14.7 million of which was for the renovation of the building, and the rest for a starter supply of consummables (test kits, extraction kits, reagents, etc.).
For its part, CLMMRH spent about P15 million for the equipment, and another P2 million for similar consumables.
Drilon said the biolab can perform 100 tests per day at the start, with a turnaround time of 72 hours or three days.
He said the biolab was the third phase of their COVID-19 response.
Meanwhile, Convocar noted that it was the first time that a local government unit (LGU) assisted the DOH in setting up a molecular laboratory.
Convocar said the CLMMRH Biolab was the 78th biolab nationwide, the fourth in the region, and second in the province.
It was one of only three Level 3-biosafety laboratories in the country, and the first outside Metro Manila; the other two, being the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), and UP National Institutes of Health, she added.
Convocar said the opening of more biolabs in the province would mean reducing the turnaround time of specimen collection and examination.
Convocar said that the latest data that they have in the region is that specimens coming into the laboratory [Western Visayas Medical Center in Iloilo City] have a turnaround time of three to 10 days.
“Imagine the time spent by those in quarantine where they have to stay in the quarantine area in the next 10 days before they can go home,” she added.
She said the DOH-6 will assist in the operational expenses of the laboratory, with an initial commitment of P5 million.