Iloilo City eyes molecular lab upgrade for genome sequencing

The city government here is eyeing to expand the services of its molecular laboratory to already include the conduct of genome sequencing.

Chiqui Blancaflor, head of the Uswag Iloilo City Molecular Laboratory based in Barangay San Pedro in Molo district, said that they still have to capacitate the laboratory for genome sequencing that will take some time, undergo training, and purchase the needed equipment.

“It will take some time but we are hoping to have it done before the end of the year,” she said in an interview Wednesday.

Currently, tests for genome sequencing are being sent to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) in Manila.

The city government-owned laboratory last week sent 15 samples to the PGC for testing of possible variants because they have noticed a “different presentation” on the specimens.

The laboratory, which started operations on Nov. 25, 2020, can perform up to 800 tests a day with a turn-around time of 24 hours.

Amid the rising cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19), the city government on Wednesday reiterated the laboratory offers free reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for both residents and non-residents of the city with flu-like symptoms and health care workers.

The swab test is also free for residents of the city who are close contacts of positive patients, unvaccinated returning residents, returning overseas Filipino workers (ROFWs), Authorized Persons Outside Residence (APORs), and vulnerable groups for blood transfusion or hospital admission.

“If they have a history of travel whether vaccinated or unvaccinated and you would like to submit yourself for testing we will accept you at the Uswag Molecular Laboratory. Our current site for swabbing is at the La Paz covered gym,” Blancaflor said.

She added that the laboratory charge is only PHP800.00, which is one of the cheapest if not the cheapest in the country.

The laboratory is open from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday to Friday and on Saturday from 7 a.m. to noontime.

Iloilo City Covid-19 focal person Dr. Roland Jay Fortuna also urged those with symptoms to seek consultation and be swabbed in district health centers, which are open on weekdays.

He added that barangay health emergency response teams (BHERTs) are active in their monitoring amid the increasing cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

As per the latest Covid-19 bulletin released by the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH WV CHD), Iloilo City has 480 active cases, 21, 242 recoveries, and 627 deaths as of January 11.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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