Bicol Region’s 2 coronavirus testing centers now operational

Rhadyz B. Barcia

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Bicol Region’s 2 coronavirus testing centers now operational
The two coronavirus testing facilities are located in Bicol's major cities of Legazpi and Naga

LEGAZPI CITY, Philippines – Bicol Region now has two testing facilities for COVID-19 following the restoration of the Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory (BRDRL) in Legazpi City and the launch of the Bicol Medical Center (BMC) in Naga City, said the Department of Health in Bicol.

The BMC in Naga City started the COVID-19 testing Thursday, May 28, using the Rapid PCR Testing or GeneXpert testing after receiving its license from the Health Facility and Services Regulatory Bureau (HFSRB).

(FAST FACTS: What’s the difference between PCR, rapid antibody tests?)

Testing will be done from Tuesday to Sunday from 6 am to 6 pm including holidays. Monday is for the scheduled decontamination of the laboratory.

The cut-off time for receiving specimens from Camarines Sur including Naga City is at 9 am while those from Camarines Norte is 12 noon. Samples received beyond cut-off time will be processed the following day.

The BMC received its certification from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) after undergoing proficiency and competency assessment, said the DOH Bicol.

DOH Bicol said the BMC testing laboratory will service the two Camarines provinces and Naga City.

But due to limited capacity, only 40 samples can be tested per day on its 12-hour daily operation.

Camarines Sur and Naga City are allotted 15 slots each, while Camarines Norte 10 slots. The province and city can send more than their allocated slots but these will be run on the following day.

Facilities are advised to coordinate with the Bicol Medical Center Hospital Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (HESU) and Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) before sending samples to the BMC testing laboratory.

The BRDRL in Legazpi City resumed its operation on Tuesday, May 26, for COVID-19 testing using the Real Time Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) after rehabilitation of its facility damaged at the height of typhoon Ambo.

The Philippine Business for Social Progress, a non-government organization that supports infectious disease programs of the DOH CHD-Bicol helped repair the damaged BRDRL facility.

As of now, the BRDRL does manual extraction which takes about 3 to 4 hours for a batch of 30 to 40 samples on a 2-shift duty. Two teams had been organized to do at least 90 to 100 tests per day.

The BRDRL has been recognized by the Department of Health (DOH) as one of 9 training providers for Hands-on PCR testing in the country.

This is to augment the RITM and the NTCBB-UP-NIH in providing training for applicants of testing laboratories.

Those interested to undergo hands-on PCR training at the BRDRL must signify their intention by writing a Letter of Request to the Office of the Secretary, Public Health Services Team, the DOH Bicol said.

“The BRDRL shall follow the program of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) as a training provider. The certificate of training that will be issued by BRDRL shall be accepted as compliance to the DOH licensing requirements,” Vera said. –



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