The molecular repair laboratory of the Southern Philippines Medical Center is still under repair, slowing down COVID-19 testing in Davao City. (File photo by KARLOS MANLUPIG / Inquirer Mindanao)
DAVAO CITY, Davao del Sur, Philippines — This city has slowed down testing of secondary close contacts of people infected with COVID-19 due to the scarcity of kits and the repair of the Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) molecular laboratory.
Dr. Michelle Schlosser, the spokesperson of the City COVID-19 Task Force, said that the city would prioritize those at high risk — that is, direct contacts of infected individuals and those with conditions that make it highly probable for them to get infected.
"Typically they turn out positive so we prioritize them," Schlosser said.
At the moment, the processing of swab samples is being done at the city government-run Los Amigos Molecular Laboratory that can accommodate up to 450 specimens a day.
The city has an ordinance penalizing contacts up to the third degree of people who are exposed to the coronavirus if they refuse to get tested.
One way to identify these people is through the Safe Davao Quick Response Code system. The system sends the exposed person a text message after determining that one is exposed to a COVID-19 case.
In the case of samples from other parts of the region, the swab samples are now sent to a private laboratory for testing until the SPMC laboratory resumes operations, according to Dr. Raquel Montejo, chief of the Local Health Support Division of the Department of Health office in the Davao Region.
Those who want speedier results and are willing to pay can opt to get tested in other private laboratories.
This developed as the city government is also setting up the guidelines for home isolation for mild and asymptomatic cases of COVID-19.
Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said the guidelines would soon be released as the city had approved a similar program for a private hospital, the Davao Doctors Hospital.
"We are preparing the guidelines [for home isolation] based on the discussion with the DOH, SPMC, and private hospitals," Duterte said, noting that hospitals were already at full capacity in terms of beds assigned to COVID-19 patients.
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