MOLECULAR LAB. The molecular lab serves as a rapid medical and public health response to the Covid-19 situation in Davao de Oro and neighboring provinces, DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña said. RT-PCR tests in this facility are free for PUI residents of Davao de Oro. (Photo grabbed from DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña's Facebook page

MANILA – Since its opening last March 5, the molecular laboratory in Davao de Oro supported by the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) has tested close to 4,000 specimens or samples in RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests.

The Davao de Oro Provincial Hospital (DDOPH)-Montevista Molecular Laboratory could accommodate 90 tests per day, and charges PHP3,800 per RT-PCR test, Eunice Manansala, the officer in charge chief of hospital at DDOPH-Montevista told the Philippine News Agency on Thursday.

Manansala noted that the RT-PCR tests at DDOPH-Montevista are free for all PUI (person under investigation) who are residents of Davao de Oro. These PUIs, she said, are those with close contact with a confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) case.

As of May 24, the DDOPH-Montevista has already tested 3,911 samples. The facility also accommodates specimens for analysis from private laboratories.

Before the establishment of the molecular laboratory, people in the Davao Region had to depend on two major hospitals -- Southern Philippines Medical Center (SPMC) in Davao City, and Davao Regional Medical Center in Tagum City, Manansala said.

"So all (the Covid-19 tests) were concentrated in SPMC since the neighboring provinces also go there. That was why it took a long time before the test results were released," she said.

She added that there are private hospitals that also conduct Covid-19 testing in Davao City.

"But there are samples that need to be sent to a private hospital and to the SPMC since we are still at a stage where we could only accommodate about 100 samples. The molecular lab front-liners are all doing their best to increase our testing capacity," she said.

Meanwhile, according to DOST-XI, the DDOPH-Montevista Molecular Laboratory was supported through the Bayanihan to Heal as One grant for PHP20.6 million. The agency's support was on capacity-building or training the analysts.

DOST Secretary Fortunato de la Peña earlier said the facility also accommodates walk-in clients for testing.

"The facility is also considered as an extension laboratory of UPMin-PGC (University of the Philippines Mindanao Campus - Philippine Genome Center ) for the conduct of collaborative research and development activities such as the program for post-Covid-19 pandemic and other infectious disease surveillance and research," de la Peña said. (PNA