The City of Bacolod has partnered with the Department of Health (DOH) in establishing the first hospital-based Level 3 testing laboratory in the country to strengthen its response to the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) pandemic.
Mayor Evelio Leonardia and Lone District Rep. Greg Gasataya together with Dr. Marlyn Convocar, regional director of DOH-Western Visayas, and Dr. Julius Drilon, medical center chief of Corazon Locsin Montelibano Memorial Regional Hospital (CLMMRH) led the cutting of the ribbon and the unveiling of the marker for the nearly PHP30-million facility over the weekend.
It will be officially named the CLMMRH-Bacolod City Bio-safety Level 3 (BSL3) Molecular Laboratory.
“This biolab, which we have long waited for, is now a reality. This is definitely a scientific and more effective way to fight Covid-19,” Leonardia said during the inauguration rites.
“This means we can do more testing and expect speedy release of results. Therefore, we can do contact-tracing as soon as possible to contain the virus,” he added.
The CLMMRH-Bacolod City Biolab can perform an initial 100 reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT -PCR) tests per day with a turnaround time of three days.
Convocar said the biolab here is also the first Covid-19 laboratory established through a partnership between a local government unit (LGU) and the DOH.
“This is the first time that an LGU assisted the DOH in setting up a molecular laboratory,” she added.
The two of the only three Level 3 biosafety laboratories in the country are hosted by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health (UP-NIH), which are both located in Metro Manila.
“The PHP20 million (from Bacolod City) is really commendable as this (project) was not included in the budget of DOH. We did not anticipate Covid in our 2019 plan and even in our General Appropriations Act,” Convocar said.
Drilon said the almost PHP30-million fund was used for the building renovation and the purchase of equipment.
The city government allocated PHP20 million, of which PHP14.7 million was spent for the building and the rest for a starter supply of consumables such as test kits, extraction kits, and reagents.
The CLMMRH shelled out some PHP15 million for the equipment and PHP2 million also for consumables.
“Our preparations actually started on the first week of February. I personally talked to our officers in the DOH that we need a laboratory that will help us identify SARS-Covid-2, in order for us to better respond and better plan our treatment protocol and responses in the city,” Drilon said.
As of Sunday night, Bacolod has 61 Covid-19 cases, with 27 recoveries. Three deaths have been recorded.
In Negros Occidental, the Teresita Lopez Jalandoni Provincial Hospital Molecular Laboratory in Silay City is also licensed to operate as a Covid-19 testing facility. (PNA)