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SPMC certified as autonomous subnational lab to test for virus

The Southern Philippines Medical Center has been certified to perform autonomous confirmatory tests for patients with COVID-19.

In an interview with Davao City Disaster Radio, Mayor Sara Duterte revealed that the SPMC doesn’t need to send samples to the Research Institute for Tropical Medication (RITM) for revalidation.

“SPMC will not anymore rely on RITM,” Duterte said. “We can conduct confirmatory testing independently and hopefully the test results will be released earlier so that we can identify who tested positive and negative.”

It also means that people can expect the number of positive cases in the region to rise.

“As the results took longer to be released before, we should expect these numbers of positive patients to increase. And there are also possibilities that some positive patients are roaming around the city already,” she said.

The SPMC has been identified by the city as the only hospital to treat COVID-19 patients and persons under investigation (PUI) with severe and critical condition.

Dr. Ricardo Audan, SPMC chief of clinics and health emergency, told TIMES in a phone interview that the current number of patients who tested positive for COVID-19 have been the result of the confirmatory testing conducted by SPMC.

He said that these new confirmed cases are now at the isolation facilities of the region’s government-run hospital. He also bared that the first batch of 100 testing kits has all been used already.

The SPMC is now using the recently arrived second batch of reagents to test the PUIs in the hospital. For now, there are 67 PUIs confined in their isolation facilities who are still waiting for their test results.

The SPMC has an existing polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machine that detects COVID-19 and other infectious diseases, which can process 30 specimens per batch. According to SPMC chief Leopoldo Vega in a previous report, this can take about eight hours for a batch of 30 patients.

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