Western Visayas opened Tuesday its 10th diagnostic laboratory center at the Hortus Botanicus in Roxas City, Capiz in a bid to strengthen efforts in the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).
In her message during the inauguration of the center, Dr. Marlyn Convocar, regional director of the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD6), said the Roxas City Diagnostic and Laboratory Center is the 112th diagnostic laboratory in the country, the 10th in Region 6, and the first in Capiz.
Based on the DOH guidelines, Convocar said the molecular laboratory has three purposes to include diagnostic to determine those who are positive for Covid-19 and their close contacts; screening of people, especially those coming from high-risk areas; and surveillance to determine the picture of Covid-19 at the population level through a random test.
“We should not be surprised if cases will increase in Roxas City. With the provision of access to (a) laboratory, it’s very possible that we will have an increase of confirmed cases,” she said.
However, it should be treated in such a way that local government units (LGUs) know how to contain it since they have cases. This is possible because “we know where they are, we know whom to be isolated and quarantined”, she added.
Convocar said that based on their record, 685 or 4.6 percent of the 14,791 total cumulative cases in the region came from Capiz.
In terms of death, 28 or eight percent of the total 349 fatalities in Western Visayas came from Capiz.
Convocar said all the needed laboratory test kits and consumables will be directed to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), while the viral transport media for swabbing will be under DOH 6.
The DOH also provided four medical technologists who will work in the laboratory until December this year.
Meanwhile, Roxas City Mayor Ronnie Dadivas, in a media interview, said the testing is free for qualified and eligible, such as those with exposure to Covid-19 positive, residents of the city. Those who will get tested for employment or tourists will have to pay.
As approved by the city council, the testing fee is PHP4,000 taking into account the expenses to be incurred in running the laboratory.
The laboratory will operate from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
As an initial operation, it will be catering to 100 specimens a day but it looked forward to doubling the capacity.
Dadivas said the laboratory will also cater to nearby municipalities and not just for Roxas City.
In his message during the program, Dadivas said the laboratory “is added ammunition in flattening the curve”.
“Our ardent hope is that this Christmastime, we are slowly moving on towards rebuilding what Covid-19 broke and beginning a new normal life,” he added.
Meanwhile, apart from the molecular laboratory, the city government also laid down its united whole of community approach in responding to Covid-19.
These are the utilization of the Congressman Ramon Arnaldo High School and Roxas City School for the Philippine Craftsmen as additional quarantine facilities on top of the facility in Hortus Botanicus in the city’s Milibili village.
Further, the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) will construct a modular type isolation facility in the vicinity of Hortus Botanicus.
Dadivas said the LGU has requested for 50 to 70 modular units.
The city also intends to convert the 330 housing units of the National Housing Authority (NHA) into additional isolation and quarantine facilities.
The housing project stands in a six-hectare lot that was purchased by the local government but yet to be turned over to the LGU.
Dadivas has been given authority by the Sanggunian Panlungsod (SP) to sign an agreement with the NHA to use the units as a quarantine facility.
The SP also enacted ordinances for the mandatory wearing of face mask and face shield, and observance of the safe physical distancing. (PNA)