The newly-commissioned Puerto Princesa City Molecular Diagnostic Laboratory will increase COVID-19 testing capacity by relieving the load on the Ospital ng Palawan (ONP) GeneXpert laboratory, according to city health authorities.
COVID-19 test findings from the laboratory, which utilizes a different method than RT-PCR testing, are anticipated to be more accurate than antigen or rapid diagnostic test results.
In an interview, Gina Villapa, the division head of the molecular laboratory, stated that the molecular lab takes a different approach to RT-PCR testing than the GeneXpert machine.
“Mas mahaba ang process nito, kung titingnan ang bawat testing process ay may sariling cubicle, pero mas sensitive ito,” Villapa said.
According to City Health Officer Dr. Ric Panganiban, Incident Management Team (IMT) commander Dr. Dean Palanca suggested that the laboratory be built in November 2020 due to the increased requirement to test more people.
“Hindi lang kasi Puerto Princesa ang tine-test natin. Nandyan ang mga munisipyo. Kaya sabi ni Doc Dean, kailangan talaga natin ng sarili nating molecular laboratory,” Panganiban said in a speech.
The laboratory’s commissioning was commemorated in a small ceremony on Monday led by mayor Lucilo Bayron.
The city’s laboratory, located in the City Hall Complex in Barangay Sta. Monica obtained its license to operate earlier than the Palawan provincial government’s molecular laboratory, and is the first commissioned laboratory in MIMAROPA, according to the Department of Health (DOH).
Provincial Health Officer (PHO) Dr. Faye Labrador said the provincial government’s laboratory has yet to get its license to function owing to technical issues.
“Ongoing ang revision per advise ng higher-ups ng mechanical aspect ng lab,” said Labrador in a text message.