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Capacity improved, but city not equipped for widespread tests: Sara

Davao City has no capacity for mass testing even with the planned establishment of four testing laboratories for COVID-19.

“I just want to clarify and manage the expectation of the people, this deed is just to increase the testing capacity of the city, but we still cannot conduct mass testing,” Mayor Sara Duterte said in an interview with Davao City Disaster Radio on Saturday.

The mayor said that the establishment of these laboratories is only to capacitate some hospitals with the necessary equipment to be a testing center for COVID-19.

The four laboratories awaiting the accreditation from the Department of Health (DOH) are the Davao Doctor’s Hospital, a privately owned laboratory, a city-operated TB center and the center of the DOH. These laboratories will complement the testing capability of the Southern Philippine Medical Center (SPMC).

“The urban health center was already inspected. According to the City Health Office (CHO), it can be converted into a laboratory already. We just need to redesign it a little bit for it to comply to the requirement of a biosafety level 2 measure for it to be operated as COVID-19 testing center,” she said.

She also said that the DOH approved the Davao TB Reference Laboratory to operate as COVID-19 testing center, where it will be using a genexpert machine.

“The city has four machines, which need a corresponding COVID-19 cartridge, trying to pursue it with the Department of Health for accreditation,” she said. “The faster they will be given the cartridge for genexpert machine, the faster they can set-up.”

Alongside the intention of increasing laboratories, Duterte said that the city is also looking to increase the number of its isolation facilities and intensify case finding. She also said that people should not expect everything to return to normal soon as the virus can only be defeated when a cure or a vaccine has already been found.

“Even if we have implemented these measures, we still cannot go back to normal and roam around the city because there is still no cure for this disease,” she said.

She also said that the establishment of these laboratories will only increase the testing per day, and will not be intended for mass testing.

The Department of Health and the city government conducted tests on random residents in targeted barangays with confirmed COVID-19 cases. Some of the samples tested positive.

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