THE second real time-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) Molecular laboratory being built in Manila for the purpose of addressing COVID-19 using a more high-tech machine that can subject more residents to free swab testing is nearing completion and may be operational before the end of this month.
This was learned from Mayor Isko Moreno, who said that once the said laboratory is finished, the number of those who may be swabbed or tested at gold standard level via RT-PCR machine will increase by about a thousand per day.
The RT-PCR machine is being utilized by the national government for confirmatory testing concerning COVID cases.
With the current laboratory in use, Moreno said about 200 to 250 persons are being tested per day. It is located at the second floor of the Sta. Ana Hospital which also houses the Manila Infectious Disease Control Center (MIDCC).
It was learned from Dr. Grace Padilla, director of the Sta. Ana Hospital, that the new machines being installed in the newest laboratory located at the ground floor will produce an output of 90 test per hour.
Padilla said the processes involved in the second laboratory will be more tedious than the previous one.
After the extraction of the virus, it will undergo amplification and other processes before finally being read by the PCR machine. In the first lab, it was accredited as Xpert Xpress SARSCov2 testing lab where, Padilla said, the entire system is like a one-stop shop where all that has to be done is to put the specimen in a cartridge, insert the said cartridge into the machine which will then read it.
The turnaround time in both laboratories, or the period within which the entire process and results may be known, will be the same.
It will be recalled that last September 6, Moreno, Vice Mayor Honey Lacuna and Secretary to the Mayor Bernie Ang received a donation of two Sansure Extraction Machines.’ Each is a fully-automated nucleic acid extraction system that can effectively help realize the goal of Moreno to test more residents on a daily basis using the most accurate confirmatory method via swabbing.
As he profusely thanked the national government for the donations, Moreno also expressed gratitude to the Ayala Foundation and its group of companies for offering to shoulder the costs for the building of the new laboratory estimated at P7.7 million. The laboratory is costly, he said, since aside from the needed equipment that have to be installed inside, even the ventilation or negative pressure has to be regulated in such a way as to ensure that the medical frontliners running it will be protected from infection.
Meanwhile, Moreno received Thursday a donation of 5,000 hygiene kits and 16 handwashing stations from US Ambassador Sung Kim, who expressed support to the mayor’s anti-COVID efforts.