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LGUs to support proposed laboratory

The proposal of the University of the Philippines – Mindanao (UPMin) to set up a molecular laboratory for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) has gotten support from the Davao del Norte local government.

“As local chief executives, we hereby commit and support your proposal to establish a mobile diagnostics laboratory for rapid medical and public health response to COVID-19 in the province,” Davao del Norte Governor Edwin Jubahib and Tagum City Mayor Allan Rellon said through a joint letter to UP- Min dated March 22.

Dr. Lyre Anni Murao, UP-Min virology professor and director of the Philippine Genome Center Mindanao, said the local government units need to shoulder about P10.3 million a month in operational costs as the private sector will fund the construction of the laboratory which will cost about P15 million.

“Our partners from the private sector will take charge of designing the lab to ensure it
will meet biosafety standards,” she said.

“The entire laboratory establishment including accreditation, design and assembly, up to equipment installation and calibration, will take roughly 7 to 8 weeks. When running at full capacity, the lab can be expected to handle 96 tests per day,” she added.

The proposed laboratory will likely be attached to the Davao Region Medical Center in Tagum as per the previous discussion with the Department of Health, Dr. Larry Digal, UP-Min chancellor said.

“DOH (Department of Health) XI welcomed the idea of setting the lab with DRMC to supplement the capacity of SPMC so that other provinces in the Davao Region and even outside the region can be better served,” Digal said.

“We are now working closely with the DavNor LGU on how to set up this lab as soon as possible. But just like the case of Marikina, the facility will have to be assessed by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine [RITM] of the DOH before it can be operational.”

In a virtual press conference Wednesday Southern Philippines Medical Center Director. Leopoldo Vega suggested that the facility should be an independent laboratory considering that signing the memorandum of agreement between DOH and UPMin will take time.

Vega added: “Just make sure you have the necessary accreditation. This is a molecular biology lab. There has to be a standard, protective room with negative pressure so that safety is there when they inactivate the virus. If they have that, I think the RITM would give their approval.”

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