The provincial government’s new molecular laboratory building in Barangay Irawan has been completed and is now under license processing in order to begin operations, according to Provincial Health Officer Dr. Erika Labrador.

The laboratory, which was fast-tracked by the Provincial Government of Palawan (PGP) to augment response to the COVID-19 crisis, is expected to expand Palawan’s testing capacity using a machine for RT-PCR testing.

During a meeting with the Provincial Task Force Against COVID-19 held Thursday, Labrador stated that the facility is now at 100 per cent completed but is still lacking some certification from the Department of Health (DOH), according to a press statement from the provincial government.

Labrador added that some procured equipment have yet to be installed for the laboratory to fully function.

”Yong ating facility, the Molecular Biological Laboratory, 100 percent completed na ‘yon with the exemption ng mechanical plan and it will be subjected to the scrutiny pa ng ating licensing ng regional and ating central na DOH. So previously kasi na-mention ‘yong regarding sa pass box, meron nang na-procure ang ating Provincial Government pero hindi pa nai-install,” she said.

The press statement added that the General Services Office has already inspected the facility, and the remaining uninstalled equipment is waiting for suppliers’ technical support staff to do the installations. The laboratory’s GeneXpert machine arrived in early August 2020.

In May 2020, Palawan Governor Jose Ch. Alvarez vowed to strengthen the province’s medical capacity. Alvarez stated that four molecular laboratories were planned to be built, and that an estimated P122-million was allotted by the PGP to purchase needed medical equipment and other supplies. Palawan currently only has one GeneXpert laboratory for RT-PCR testing, which is at the Ospital ng Palawan.