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Bicol Medical Center gets certification for COVID testing; now awaiting for license to operate

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The Bicol Medical Center in Naga City has received its certification yesterday, May 26, from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) on independent testing for COVID-19 (SARS-CoV-2) via Rapid PCR Testing (Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2).

Meanwhile, the BMC is now awaiting for the License to Operate from the Health Facility and Services Regulatory Bureau and the the Regulation, Licensing and Enforcement Division of DOH CHD – Bicol is now facilitating the said license for BMC to start its Rapid PCR Testing for COVID-19.

Once finally approved, the facility will increase the testing capacity of Bicol Region which is important in isolating COVID 19 suspects to prevent the further spread of the disease in the community.

“The Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 test is a rapid, real-time, in-vitro RT-PCR test for the qualitative detection of nucleic acid from the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. These test cartridges can be reconfigured in GeneXpert machines to detect SARS-CoV-2 virus. Initially, BMC received 600 cartridges for COVID-19 testing via GeneXpert machine,” said the DOH Bicol.

“Originally, the GeneXpert Machine is used for detecting if a person is infected with Tuberculosis. It works on a molecular level to identify mycobacterium tuberculosis. Fortunately, there is already an existing GeneXpert machine in Bicol Medical Center which now can be used for COVID-19 testing,” it added.

Meanwhile, the department also said that upper respiratory specimens such as nasopharyngeal, oropharyngeal, nasal, or mid-turbinate swab collected from individuals suspected of COVID-19 by their healthcare provider will be used for Rapid PCR testing or GeneXpert Testing.

“The health facilities in the region are reminded that same guidelines on sending of samples to Bicol Regional Diagnostic and Reference Laboratory (BRDRL) shall be strictly followed. The health facilities shall first inform or notify the Regional Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit (RESU) before sending samples to both the BRDRL and the Hospital-based laboratory for performing Rapid PCR testing in BMC,” said the DOH.

“Use of GeneXpert cartridges for COVID-19 testing shall be used among all individuals who are at-risk of contracting COVID-19 infection, in compliance with the Department Memorandum 2020-0180. This include patients or healthcare workers experiencing severe, critical or mild symptoms, with history of travel or exposure, as well as those considered vulnerable. Patients or healthcare workers with no symptoms but with relevant history of travel or contact shall also be tested,” it closed.