By: Morexette Marie B. Erram – CDN Digital Reporter
Some of the test kits to detect Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) that the Office of the Presidential Assistant to the Visayas (OPAV) procured has arrived in Cebu, and will be used soon.
Cebu City Mayor Edgardo Labella confirmed this in a statement on Friday, March 20, 2020, or a day after OPAV chief, Secretary Michael Lloyd Dino, pledged to donate 30,000 test kits to be used in the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC).
Labella said 20,000 of the 30,000 kits from OPAV are now in Cebu.
At a press conference on March 19, 2020, Dino announced that his office will be acquiring 30,000 test kits abroad if it meant that every individual suspected of having the COVID-19 in Cebu will be tested.
Dino also said 20,000 more test kits will be distributed to other local government units (LGUs) in the Visayas region.
Scientists from the Department of Health (DOH) and the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health (UP-NIH) identified VSMMC as a sub-national laboratory for the Visayas.
Sub-national laboratories are health facilities that have the capacity to conduct polymerase-chain-reaction (PCR) tests, which is a laboratory method used to analyze DNA and RNA sequences, usually to detect the presence of infections.
VSMMC has started conducting COVID-19 tests on Thursday, March 19, 2020.
However, due to the limited number of Food and Drug Administration (FDA)- approved kits, they have to prioritize individuals admitted to hospitals with a severe acute respiratory infection.
FDA and Test Kit Approval
Dr. Jaime Bernadas, director of the DOH in Central Visayas (DOH -7) that runs and manages VSMMC, said the use of COVID-19 test kits must have the approval first from FDA.
Bernadas disclosed in earlier press conferences that their agency received multiple pledges and donations for COVID-19 test kits but all of them did not have FDA clearance.
On March 20, 2020, FDA announced that they added more producers in their list of approved COVID-19 test kits for commercial use. /RCG