• By The Financial District


The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has opened its biggest molecular laboratory in the Visayas, capable of processing 4,000 real-time reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) per day.

Senator Richard Gordon, chairman and chief executive officer of PRC, led the inauguration of the PHP38-million 207-square-meter laboratory in Barangay Jagobiao in Mandaue City, Cebu.

The laboratory is expected to ease the backlogs in RT-PCR testing in the province, particularly in Cebu City, which has recently been downgraded to modified enhanced community quarantine, Gordon said.

"Within 48 hours, lalabas ang result (the PCR test result will come out). Makakatulong kami sa buong Cebu kasi sabay-sabay na kami magte-test. Bibilis lahat ng testing dito (We will be able to help the entire Cebu because we can do simultaneous tests. All tests here will be much faster)," he said, noting that the laboratory has the biggest swab testing capacity in the Visayas and Mindanao.

Gordon said the Cebu City government would soon have four air-conditioned tents that would house four cluster clinics in the capital city, as he approved their request for their installation.

These clinics that need air-conditioned tents are temporarily located at the Cebu Medical Society building, Brotherhood gym, Sawang Calero gym, and Tinago gym.

Melquiades Feliciano, who is assisting Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu in overseeing the city’s Covid-19 response, lauded PRC's contribution in ramping up the city’s testing capacity.

"(On) behalf of the IATF Emergency Operations Center here in Cebu City, we thank the PRC and Senator Gordon for extending a helping hand during this hour of need. These efforts will surely boost the city's health care mechanisms to fight Covid-19," Feliciano said.

The Mandaue laboratory has four PCR machines.

Gordon said the PRC could also provide two additional PCR machines that would raise the laboratory’s testing capacity to 6,000 swab samples daily.

Currently, the state-owned Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center and Department of Health (DOH) 7’s (Central Visayas) molecular laboratory also process hundreds of swab samples daily.

Gordon said the public could avail themselves of the PRC molecular laboratory’s services.

PhilHealth members do not have to pay anything while those who are not covered will have to pay PHP4,000 per swab test, Gordon said, adding that programs to help indigents are being eyed.

Present during the inauguration of the molecular laboratory were deputy chief implementer of the country's National Policy Against Covid-19 Vince Dizon, PRC secretary-general Elizabeth Zavalla, PRC head of molecular laboratory Dr. Paulyn Ubial, Mandaue City Mayor Jonas Cortes, Cebu 6th District Rep. Emmarie Ouano-Dizon, and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino.