Cotabato City (March 27, 2020)—The possibility of an alternative testing for Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) using the GenExpert Machine, which is originally intended for testing tuberculosis (TB), is now being explored by the Bangsamoro Government’s Ministry of Health (MOH – BARMM).
This was announced by Minister of Health Dr. Saffrulah M. Dipatuan during the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19 press briefing held today, March 27, at the Bangsamoro Government Center, in the city.
“In case na matuloy ito, mapapdali ang testing natin para sa mga COVID-19 patients dahil hindi na kakailanganin mag-travel sa Davao o Manila,” Dipatuan said.
According to him, the Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC) in Cotabato City, a Department of Health (DOH)-retained hospital, has the required laboratories to perform COVID-19 testing using the said machine.
“The testing must be done in a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) laboratory like the one in Cotabato Regional Medical Center. It means, the laboratory must have a biosafety cabinet and a Negative Pressure HVAC System. Hence, not all laboratories are qualified to perform this,” Dipatuan said.
“What is further needed is some additional machines, a supply of appropriate cartridges and additional medical technologists to perform the test,” he added.
Furthermore, the MOH-BARMM is exploring the possibility of installing GenExpert Machines in other BARMM referral hospitals, including Maguindanao Provincial Hospital, Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City, and other hospitals in the Bangsamoro island provinces.
The GenExpert Machine that is originally intended for testing TB is now approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for detecting Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV-2) that is causing COVID-19.
“The said information to use the machine is approved by the Department of Health,” said Dipatuan.
Meanwhile, data from MOH-BARMM shows that the entire BARMM has 185 Persons Under Investigation (PUI) and 6,697 Persons Under Monitoring (PUM), as of March 26, 2020, 9:00 PM.
There are 5 confirmed COVID-19 cases across the region. 2 are admitted, 1 under strict home quarantine and 2 fatalities. All confirmed cases have travel history to COVID-19-affected areas. (Bureau of Public Information)