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Davao City PNP molecular lab now in full operation— Eleazar

A SECOND molecular laboratory built to subject officers and men of the Police Regional Office 11 (PRO11) in Southern Mindanao to a Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) test is now in full operation to test PNP ‘frontliners’ in the drive versus the deadly virus in the region, Philippine National Police (PNP) Deputy Chief for Administration and commander of the Administrative Support for Joint COVID-19 Task Force, Lieutenant General Guillermo Lorenzo T. Eleazar told the Journal Group yesterday.

Mamang PulisAccording to the PNP’s no. 2 official, the molecular laboratory located at the PRO11 headquarters in Davao City can accommodate 170 tests per day.

“The instruction of our Chief PNP, General Debold M. Sinas, is to maximize the RT-PCR daily tests in order to immediately respond to the health care needs of our personnel in Mindanao, especially those who were infected by the coronavirus,” said Eleazar.

Sinas earlier assured a full support system to the health safety and medical needs of policemen, especially those who are deployed as frontliners in the government’s measures to protect the public from the deadly COVID-19 virus.

Eleazar said that one of the 34 PRO11 personnel who were subjected to an RT-PCR test last February 11 tested positive for the virus.

He added that on the 1st day of the official opening of the molecular laboratory on Monday last week, three of the 84 PRO11 personnel who were subjected to an RT-PCR test were found to be positive for the virus.

PRO11 director, Brigadier Gen. Filmore B. Escobal said that more of his men are scheduled for a swab testing in the coming days.

“Our molecular laboratory in Davao can conduct a maximum of 85 tests per run. And according to our Health Service personnel in Davao City, they will conduct two runs per day so that is equivalent to a maximum of 170 tests per day,” said Eleazar.

PNP Health Service director, Brig. Gen. Luisito P. Magnaye said the molecular laboratory in Davao City is manned by 17 trained PNP personnel—three medical technologists, one Molecular Pathologist, seven personnel who are tasked to conduct encoding and receptionists for specimens, and five more personnel who are performing the actual swab test.

Eleazar emphasized the need to conduct RT-PCR tests for PNP personnel especially that thousands of policemen have been deployed in the frontlines to enforce the quarantine rules to prevent the further spread of the killer virus. A number of PNP personnel are also deployed to man quarantine and isolation facilities.

“Time is an essential element in fighting COVID-19. Early detection through RT-PCR, which experts said is the most accurate form of coronavirus detection, is necessary not only to provide the immediate health care for our infected personnel but also to prevent them from bringing the virus to their homes and in their communities,” said the official.

“Included in the priority list of our personnel who would be tested are those assigned in areas with high cases of COVID-19 in Mindanao and those assigned as front-liners,” he added.

Based on the latest data from the ASCOTF, a total of 102,718 PNP personnel have been subjected to RT-PCR since last March 16 representing 46.9 percent of the PNP‘s total strength of 219,044.

Of those tested, a total of 11,083 were found to have been infected by the coronavirus since last year, with 31 reported deaths. There were 29 additional coronavirus infections reported as of 6 p.m. on Monday.

Currently, there are nearly 480 active cases of COVID-19 in the PNP. All of them are in PNP isolation facilities except for 11 who are confined in hospitals. A total of 10,765 PNP personnel out of the more than 11,200 policemen who contracted the virus since last March last year were able to fully recover.

With the opening of the molecular laboratory in Davao City and soon in Cebu City, Lt. Gen. Eleazar said they expect more PNP personnel to undergo RT-PCR test.

Last year, two molecular laboratories were set up at Camp Crame in Quezon City—one under the PNP-HS and the other one under the Crime Laboratory— for PNP personnel assigned in Metro Manila, which remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country.

The molecular laboratory in Cebu City is expected to start its operation anytime upon clearance from the Department of Health.