THE Philippine Red Cross has taken another step in its campaign to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) after its testing center in its national headquarters located along EDSA started operations on Wednesday.
Senator Richard J. Gordon, PRC chairman and CEO, said the country’s foremost humanitarian organization has taken on a new function with its PRC Molecular Laboratory.
“At present, we have two testing machines, with each one capable of conducting up to 1,500 tests per day, at makakatulong ‘yan so we can test more people. Mas madali nating matatanggalan ng maskara ang kalaban, hindi natin kalaban ‘yung taong maysakit kungdi ‘yung taglay niyang sakit. Pag nakita na natin ‘yung kalaban, at least mahihiwalay na natin iyan dun sa mga grupo ng mga taong wala at mapagamot na siya kaagad. At mababawasan ‘yung human-to-human contact na mangyayari kung di natin siya aalisin sa isang barangay,” he said.
Gordon said the PRC has already entered or is in the process of entering into memoranda of agreement with four local government units in Metro Manila, namely Quezon City, Caloocan, Makati and Mandaluyong. The LGUs will shoulder the testing cost for their constituents.
Swabbing will be conducted in the barangays by PRC or LGU personnel trained by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM). Then the test kits will be transported to the Molecular Laboratory in Mandaluyong. There the samples will be placed inside the testing machine including the automated RNA extractor and then the PCR MA 6000 will determine whether the sample is negative or positive.
The PRC chairman said the public can also avail themselves of the testing by appointment to ensure that social distancing will be strictly complied with at the testing center. They can call 1158, the PRC’s COVID hotline, where trained PRC staff and volunteers, which include doctors, will interview them and schedule them for testing if needed or refer them to appropriate hospitals.
Gordon thanked the PRC’s staff who worked hard to build the testing center and the RITM, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin, Jr. and Philippine Ambassador to China Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana for their help in setting up the facility.