PHILIPPINE Red Cross Chairman Sen. Richard J. Gordon on Wednesday led the inauguration of a state-of-the-art biomolecular laboratory (BM Lab) in Surigao City aimed to help stem the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) in Surigao del Norte and its nearby provinces in the Caraga Region.
The Surigao BM laboratory is capable of testing 2,000 samples per day where registration to results/certificate receiving is done online.
Established upon the request of Surigao del Norte Gov. Francisco “Lalo” Matugas and Rep. Francisco “Bingo” Matugas II, the fully automated BM laboratory houses one ribonucleic acid extractor machine and two polymerase chain reaction (PCR) machines.
The cooperation between the Surigao del Norte provincial government and the country’s premier humanitarian organization was able to raise some Php18 million worth of donations from several mining companies namely, Taganito Mining Corporation, Cagdianao Mining Corporation, and Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation. The said amount was used to procure state-of-the-art laboratory equipment.
The molecular testing laboratory in Surigao was constructed in bare land under a usufruct agreement with the Surigao State College of Technology represented by its president, Dr. Gregorio Gamboa.
The Red Cross shouldered the cost of development of the structure with enormous support from Gov. Lalo Matugas and Congressman Bingo Matugas.
Consumables for the test kits such as reagents, the swab kits, personal protective equipment (PPE), masks, gloves, the expenses for utilities, electricity, water, internet, manpower (salaries of med techs, pathologists, janitorial staff, admin staff, drivers, swabbers, etc.) and other operating expenses will be shouldered by the Philippine Red Cross. These are all covered by the cost of the swab test of Php 4,000.
With its automated COVID-19 database platform, the Red Cross releases the results within 24-48 hours to the registered email addresses of the patients.
The goal of the Red Cross as a humanitarian agency, together with its LGU partners like the Surigao provincial government, is to control the spread of the disease through mass public testing and by identifying immediately those who are confirmed positive for the disease to isolate and treat them accordingly.
As of January 10, 2021, there are more or less 5,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the entire Caraga Region with nearly 200 deaths.