DOH 7: No more Covid test backlogs in VSMMC

THE Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center sub-national laboratory (VSMMC SNL) has eliminated backlogs in Covid-19 testing, a Department of Health (DOH)-Central Visayas official said Saturday, June 20, 2020.

"Wala nay backlog ang Sotto since they are now running test using the automated extractors," Jaime Bernadas, DOH-Central Visayas director, said in a text message sent to SunStar Cebu.

He said that to date, the VSMMC SNL is "up-to-date" with the testing of submitted specimens and the so-called backlog specimens from previous weeks have been tested and results have been reported.

Bernadas earlier said the surge of the Covid-19 cases in Cebu City during the first two weeks of June, when the city was placed under general community quarantine (GCQ) status from June 1 to 15, was due to backlogs of specimen testing and test results in two laboratories last May.

In early May, Bernadas said there was a problem of the availability of reagents, extraction kits and extraction machine. This resulted in limited testing of specimens or swab samples.

The backlogs, he said, surfaced when the swab samples kept on coming and the problems were not fixed yet.

Based on the available data as posted daily by the VSMMC in its official Facebook page, the SNL tested an average of 570 samples from May 1 to 13. However, it only tested an average of 35 samples per day from May 14 to 17. The highest recorded pending samples at the VSMMC SNL for the month of May was 2,678 on May 5.

As of June 19, 1 p.m., the VSMMC-SNL tested a total of 138 samples. Of the number, 59 tested positive while 79 yielded negative results.

VSMMC SNL said it has 289 pending samples as of Friday, June 19.

Bernadas said that to date, the specimens submitted by the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (Resu)-Central Visayas coming from various sources, including Cebu City specimens, are now processed and tested on time.

In Central Visayas, the swab samples are tested at the VSMMC-SNL and the DOH-TB Reference Laboratory. Both laboratories are located in Cebu City.

Bernadas said the community testing done at the tri-cities of Cebu, Mandaue, and Lapu Lapu, which was participated by 45,905 individuals, officially closed by the end of the first week of June 2020.

"Not all who tested positive for IgM were swabbed. This was due to late releasing of reports from partner labs. Despite this however, all of those with IgM were isolated by 14 days," he said.

He said between May 6-20, the following are rtPCR prevalence rates per 100 households in the tri-cities -- Cebu City: 13 percent; Mandaue City: three percent; and Lapu Lapu City: 2.4 percent. (WBS)