Sotto set to expand Covid-19 lab facilities for faster testing

VICENTE Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC), in coordination with the Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas, has started working on expanding their molecular laboratory facility to make room for more personnel, machines and equipment in an effort to hasten the testing of the increasing number of presumptive COVID-19 cases since the ILI and SARI protocol was rolled out.

A highly specialized molecular laboratory is required to test for samples of suspected Covid-19 cases.

The DOH 7 Tuberculosis Reference Laboratory, a separate laboratory adjacent to VSMMC’s molecular laboratory building, is currently being renovated to serve as VSMMC’s extension molecular laboratory to cater to samples sent from Regions 6 (Western Visayas) and 8 (Eastern Visayas) for Covid-19 testing, while the facilities in these other Visayas regions are still being set-up.

The Cebu City Government, Cristina Lee Dino Foundation and Mr. Kim Wong, have donated six RTPCR machines to augment the molecular laboratory at VSMMC. Two of the donated machines are now being used at the existing molecular facility of VSMMC.

For the other four machines donated, these will be installed in the extension laboratory of VSMMC, which is targeted to be operational in 3-4 weeks.

Aside from the RTPCR machines, also donated were a microplate spinner, mini centrifuge, refrigerated centrifuge, nCoV19 detection kits and other consumables to be used at the existing facility. A DNA/RNA Viral Extractor Automated Machine - a new technology and the first of its kind in the Philippines that effectively shortens the testing procedure was also among the items donated.

During the past days, all the RTPCR machines from South Korea have already been subjected to validation test-runs using non-patient samples. The test-runs were done twice: first, by VSMMC’s highly proficient personnel in collaboration with technicians from Korea to ensure proper product operation; and second, by the VSMMC’S highly proficient personnel for validation.

At the moment, the VSMMC’s molecular testing facility is the only operational facility in the Visayas accredited by RITM.

Sec. Michael Lloyd Dino thanks President Rodrigo Duterte and Sen. Bong Go for their full support to our initiatives here in the Visayas, and in the same way expresses his appreciation to the people of Visayas for their continued support and cooperation on our fight against Covid-19. (PR)