Cagayan de Oro equips TB center to qualify for coronavirus testing
CAGAYAN DE ORO, Philippines – The city government of Cagayan de Oro purchased two Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) machines to equip a local tuberculosis testing center that is undergoing assessment for coronavirus testing.
The regional capital of Northern Mindanao was classifed by the government's coronavirus task force as a low-risk area for coronavirus, but Mayor Oscar Moreno said the city was not going to take its chances and will continue to take precautions against the pandemic.
"The virus is still there and it is still dangerous," said Moreno.
As of posting, the TB testing center located at the regional headquarters of the Department of Health (DOH) was on the third of 5 stages of the accreditation process.
DOH-10 infectious disease cluster chief Dr. Ian Gonzales said further refurbishments will be done to the facility while medical personnel undergo training in handling not only RT-PCR machines but also GeneXpert machines.
GeneXpert are machines used for TB diagnosis, but were also recently used for COVID-19 testing after kits were developed to test for SARS-CoV-2.
Gonzales said medical technologists from NMMC, who will man the TB testing center, were also undergoing biosafety training at the RITM.
The DOH originally wanted to set up a local testing capability at the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC), a referral hospital for COVID-19, to serve testing requirements not just in Northern Mindanao but also in the Zamboanga Peninsula and the Caraga region.
These regions have been sending samples to Manila or Davao City, which hosts the only testing center in Mindanao so far. The turnaround time for results have been slow – an average of two weeks – due to lack of flights among other logistical issues.
The NMMC laboratory didn't qualify for testing, however. The Polymedic Plaza laboratory didn't qualify, too. (READ: How poor is the PH health system? Many hospitals not qualified to test for coronavirus)
The TB testing center was the only laboratory in the city that was approved by a team from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
"With the assistance of the city government, we are getting our laboratory at the regional office ready to do the PCR test. This will eventually [make us understand the] bigger picture," Gonzales said. – Rappler.com