CITY OF SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga – After acquiring the green light with Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, mass testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) in the province will start on Sunday (May 10) at the Jose B. Lingad Memorial Regional Hospital (JBLMRH) here.
Gov. Dennis Pineda said on Saturday all confirmed and suspected Covid-19 cases will be prioritized for the mass testing at JBLMRH which got its license to operate for its Molecular and Diagnostic Pathology Laboratory in the region.
He said that Pampanga has 10,000 reserved testing kits.
“We will prioritize the confirmed and suspected Covid-9 cases. Please coordinate with the Governor’s Office at the provincial capitol. This is aside from the test being conducted by the Philippine Survey and Research Center to 800 households,“ he said in Filipino.
Duque, together with Ahmeed Saeed, Vice President for East Asia, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific Asian Development Bank (ADB) and other officials, led the launching of the Pandemic Sub-national Reference Laboratory at the JBLMRH.
“I would like to thank our partners who continuously support the DOH, especially during this most difficult time. We value our partnership with our stakeholders and partners who help us strengthen our mechanisms in providing the health needs of our countrymen,” Duque said.
“It is our aspiration that this will continue to serve as our reference laboratory in the future once this pandemic has come to an end,” he added.
Meanwhile, JBLMRH chief Dr. Monserrat Chichioco said the testing will be on a scale-up approach and it will initially operate on an 8-hour operation to run 500 to 1,000 tests a day.
“Once the laboratory operates 24 hours, we are targeting about 3,000 tests a day. Continuous recruitment of laboratory scientists and medical technologists, and training of newly hired laboratory personnel will be implemented to reach the 24-hour operation,” Chichioco said.
DOH regional director Dr. Cesar Cassion said guidelines on expanded testing issued by the DOH shall still be the basis when receiving samples for testing.
Under the guidelines, people under the subgroups A (patients or healthcare workers with severe/critical symptoms, and relevant history of travel/contact) and B (patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, relevant history of travel/contact, and considered vulnerable) will still be prioritized.
“Once JBLMRH has scaled-up and operates 24 hours, local government and private hospitals can send their letter of intent and can have their memorandum of agreement with JBLMRH,” Cassion said.
With the more testing laboratory facilities in place, he said the DOH is eyeing to reach the government’s goal of 30,000 tests daily starting May 31. (ia/PNA)