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BAGUIO CITY – The city government announced that the chief implementer of the government’s national action plan against the dreaded Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) 2019 approved its request for the provision of some 30,000 reverse transmission polymerase chain reaction-based (RT-PCR) test kits to improve the testing capacity of the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC), the designated sub-national testing laboratory in Northern Luzon, following reports on alleged backlogs over the past several days.
However, Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said that chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. assured that these test kits will be delivered in staggered basis because of the huge demand for PCR-based test kits in the different parts of the country but the promised volume will be delivered in due time.
He added the upcoming operation of a molecular laboratory in Region I by next week and another accredited sub-national testing center in Region II in the coming weeks will also contribute in the efforts to increase the number of tests conducted daily and improve the testing capacity of health facilities for the government to ascertain the degree of infection in the country.
The city chief executive informed city legislators that the BGHMC tested some 2,000 swab samples following the arrival of 6,000 PCR-based test kits from the health department while 2,000 backlog swab samples were taken by the Philippine National Red Cross to help reduce the backlog.
Earlier, the city government targeted to test some 35 percent of the city’s population which is equivalent to over 140,000 individuals until December this year to be determine the number of persons infected with the deadly virus.
At present, BGHMC has 4 RT-PCR testing machines that is capable of conducting more than 4,000 tests per day but 2 of the said machines are still being subjected to reconfiguration by technical experts from the health department and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).
On the other hand, Magalong reported 3,000 rapid test kits also arrived recently for the city’s contract tracing activities after the earlier supply of rapid test kits were exhausted.
Since the start of the implementation of the extended Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine last March 17, 2020, Baguio recorded 30 confirmed COVID cases with 19 individuals recovering, 10 others, mostly health workers of the BGHMC, still completing their prescribed 14-day isolation, while there was only a single death.
He underscored that with the rate that the tests are being undertaken, he is not yet confident on the number of confirmed COVID cases in the city because there might be a good number of asymptomatic individuals who are still untested and continue to mingle with the city’s population and pose a serious threat to the health and safety of most of the city’s residents.
By Dexter A. See