Bangsamoro region eyes local coronavirus testing within May
'Pinapanalangin natin na within this month of May ay operational na po 'yung COVID-19 subnational laboratory center natin dito sa CRMC,' says BARMM Health Minister Saffrullah Dipatuan

CORONAVIRUS TESTING. BARMM chief minister Ahod Ebrahim turns over P14.1 million to CRMC Chief of Hospital Helen Yambao on Monday, April 13, 2020. Photo courtesy of BARMM PIO

MANILA, Philippines – The Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) said it was looking forward to having its own coronavirus testing facility within the month of May.

BARMM Health Minister Saffrullah Dipatuan said laboratory personnel of the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC) were undergoing training for coronavirus testing and were getting assistance from the Research Insitute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). 

The laboratory has also purchased necessary testing equipment and was just waiting for the delivery so it can proceed with the accreditation process.

Pinapanalangin natin na within this month of May ay operational na po ‘yung COVID-19 subnational laboratory center natin dito sa CRMC (We are praying that the COVID-19 subnational laboratory center here at CRMC will be operational within this month of May),” Dipatuan said in a press conference on Wednesday, May 6. 

BARMM entered into a memorandum of agreement with the Cotabato City hospital to develop its laboratory into a coronavirus testing facility. The autonomous region turned over P14.1 million to fund the purchase of testing equipment. 

The CRMC, although located in Cotabato City, is under the jurisdiction of the regoinal office of the Department of Health. Dipatuan said none of the hospitals under BARMM’s jurisdiction qualified for coronavirus testing. (READ: How poor is the PH health system? Many hospitals not qualified to test for coronavirus)

BARMM lifted its enhanced community quarantine on May 1, along with most of the regions in the country. 

As of Tuesday, May 5, the region recorded a total of 16 coronavirus cases, including 7 who have recovered and 4 who died. 

Dipatuan said there were no new cases in the region since May 1. 

The region was still monitoring at least 23 suspect cases, however, which was down from 272 cases after most of them have finished their 14-day home quarantines.

The two newest suspect caess were recorded in Lanao Del Sur and Sulu. –