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Bulacan opens GeneXpert laboratory for COVID-19 testing
By: PPAO
Thursday, 25 June 2020
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GENEXPERT LABORATORY OPENING. Governor Daniel R. Fernando (fifth from left) together with (from left) Board Member Allan Ray Baluyut, Dr. Bernadette Espiritu, Dr. Hjordis Marushka Celis, Board Member Romina Fermin, Rev. Fr. Joseph Fidel Roura and Board Member Bernardo Ople, Jr. leads the ribbon cutting ceremony that marks the opening of the Bulacan Medical Center’s GeneXpert Laboratory in the City of Malolos, Bulacan today. View Larger Image.
CITY OF MALOLOS – Bulacan’s GeneXpert laboratory has received its license to operate last Saturday and will officially start COVID-19 testing fully owned and operated by the Provincial Government of Bulacan today.

Governor Daniel R. Fernando inspected the laboratory located at the Bulacan Medical Center yesterday to ensure that everything is in order before they start accepting samples.

“This facility will help us hasten the testing process para mas madali nang ma-identify ‘yung mga positive at mapagbuti ‘yung contact tracing. The purpose of testing is to separate and quarantine those who have contacted the virus from the bigger population that do not have it. We will have a better picture of the extent, severity and location of those infected and can act accordingly to safeguard the public,” Fernando said.

Dr. Hjordis Marushka Celis, Provincial Health Officer II who will lead the laboratory personnel, said that all staff who will man the area is trained in biosafety and biosecurity and the GeneXpert and passed the competency assessment, written proficiency and practical exams.

“Bulacan is very fortunate to have this kind of facility at tayo lang ang isa sa pinakaunang nagkaroon nito sa buong rehiyon kasi ang requirement ay dapat BSL2, ang laking tulong nito sa pag-test. The license was issued last June 19, but was emailed to us June 20,” Celis said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Bernadette Espiritu, the pathologist who will man the laboratory, explained the functions of the machine up to the printing of results in just 45 minutes.

“Ang ginawa naming kung sino ‘yung nagsasample prep hindi siya ‘yung pupunta sa GeneXpert na tinatawag na rapid PCR kasi the principle is actualy PCR, automated naman siya lahat. Ang maganda ditto ‘yung fear of contamination mo very minimal kasi pagdating sa sample niloload mo na lang siya, meron siyang 4 modules, since 45 minutes lang ang running time, technically 48 ang magagawa natin everyday, ang running naming is 12 hours,” Espiritu said.

The said machine was already in the province since 2015 to cater to the multidrug-resistant tuberculosis patients and added that they are expecting another GeneXpert machine from the Department of Health.

“It’s only the DOH na merong ganitong cartridge kaya ‘di natin kailangan bumili, binibigay lang kasi kasama sa program nila, so the more na cartridges na nagamit naming mas marami ‘yung ibabalik nila samen, mabilis siya kasi ‘pag sinabi n’yang negative it’s really negative ‘pag positive talagang positive, connected na rin ‘yung printer. Diba maraming OFW na stranded, they can avail of this mas mabilis kesa sa pipila pa sila sa PCR,” Espiritu explained.

Espiritu added that apart from COVID-19 swab samples, they will continue to do tests for different other diseases.

“Hindi naming pababayaan ang TB kasi maraming MDR, kaya dinivide naming ang sched kasi sa totoo lang GeneXpert started with TB, tinetest din ang HIV, Hepa B and C. Dito kasi makikita mo siya kasi very sensitive ‘yung GeneXpert,” Espiritu ended.###

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