Molecular lab opens in Mandaue City, promises 4,000 COVID-19 tests daily

The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Thursday, July 16, opened its molecular laboratory in Mandaue City, saying it is designed to process up to 4,000 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests per day.

The molecular laboratory, which is said to be worth P38-million, "has the biggest swab testing capacity in [the] Visayas and Mindanao,” said Senator Richard Gordon, who is also PRC chairman.

The facility is located in Barangay Jagobiao.

Gordon, who led the ribbon-cutting, said the facility was primarily funded by Security Bank, Nature’s Spring, and Geo Transport & Construction.

For comparison, the lab at the government-owned Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City could process only 525 tests daily, while the lab at the Department of Health Central Visayas can handle 828 samples.

The molecular laboratory will include 4 thermocyclers or PCR machines, which will be used for facilitating the study of temperature-sensitive reactions, including rapid diagnostics.

Secretary Vivencio Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the national government's Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF), said the idea of establishing a PRC molecular laboratory in Cebu province came up when the number of COVID-19 cases spiked in Cebu City.

To support current efforts in testing, Gordon said, the facility may take samples from outside of Cebu, like from the provinces of Samar and Leyte.

He also mentioned that private individuals not necessarily can avail themselves of the PRC molecular laboratory’s services.

Swab tests at the facility will cost around P4,000 each. If the person requesting a swab test is covered by PhilHealth, then he won’t have to pay.

As of July 16, Mandaue City had a total of 1,361 confirmed coronavirus cases, including 765 active cases, 556 recovered, and 40 deaths. – Rappler.com