Amid the rising cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in Surigao del Norte, local officials are optimistic the province’s first molecular laboratory can help boost pandemic response through faster diagnostic results, rapid identification of infected patients, and faster contact tracing to limit the contagion
Surigao del Norte assistant provincial administrator Sim Castrence said the laboratory’s construction in Surigao City started last month and is expected to be completed by the second week of November.
“Governor Francisco Matugas has urged the mining companies to help build the molecular laboratory in the province to boost our fight against Covid-19,” Castrence told the Philippine News Agency Tuesday.
He was referring to the Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL) that joined hands with Nickel Asia Corporation (NAC) and the latter’s affiliates–Taganito Mining Corporation (TMC) and Cagdianao Mining Corporation (CMC)–to establish the PHP28-million molecular testing laboratory (MTL).
The MTL has the capacity to process at least 2,000 samples using the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) method.
Roberto Parada of the provincial information office of Surigao del Norte also said on Monday the laboratory will have the capacity to process at least 2,000 specimens per day.
Castrence said the MTL is being built on a 2,000-square meter property of the Surigao State College (SSC) in Barangay Bonifacio, Surigao City.
“The members of the board of SSC already approved the establishment of the lab through a usufruct agreement with the city government of Surigao and the provincial government of Surigao del Norte,” Castrence said.
Parada said the provincial government has begun the hiring process for the facility’s staff and personnel in anticipation of its operationalization next month.
“The laboratory needs one manager, a laboratory supervisor, eight medical technologists, 12 specimen collectors who are preferably medical technologists and nurses, and four computer encoders,” he said.
Data from the Department of Health in Caraga (DOH-13) showed that as of Oct. 10, Surigao del Norte and its capital city of Surigao have a combined total of 195 Covid-19 cases with 108 recoveries, 161 active cases, and 10 deaths.
DOH-13 has also declared local transmission of the virus in the area. (PNA)