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Red Cross molecular testing laboratory opens in Surigao City




The new molecular testing laboratory (MTL) of Philippine Red Cross (PRC) in Surigao Ciy has formally opened which is expected to boost the country’s campaign against coronavirus disease (COV ID-19).

Red Cross chairman and Senator Richard Gordon led the inauguration of the molecular laboratory funded by the Nickel Asia Corp. (NAC).

Gordon said that laboratory has the capacity to process some 2000 specimens everyday using the reverse transcript-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). It will provide faster diagnostic results of suspected COVID-19 cases and is expected to dramatically improve the province’s response against the threat of the virus.

Jose Bayani “JB” Baylon, vice president for Corporate Communication for NAC said that the MTL is the first of its kind funded by a mining company in this mineral-rich province.

“Our NAC affiliates were among the first to respond to the mining communities by expending some P50 million during the first months of the pandemic securing food and basic first-aid materials including tests kits, and we figured what better way to serve the communities of SDN than its own lab to hasten the process of identifying the cases of infection and be able to respond accordingly,” Baylon said.

Gordon thanked Nickel Asia, adding that Red Cross intends to put a molecular laboratory all over the Philippines.

He added that the new lab in Surigao, which is equipped with 42 testing machines, can identify not only infected COVID-19 patients faster, but can test other diseases like HIV, leukemia, and various forms of cancer.

“This lab can be the Eastern Mindanao warehouse in Mindanao not only for testing but for research and hopefully we can start our own vaccination program here” Gordon added.

Gordon also confirmed that Red Cross has very recently started using saliva testing for COVID-19 tracing and he hopes to bring the said testing capability to the new laboratory in Surigao City.

The P18 million molecular laboratory was funded by Taganito HPAL Nickel Corporation (THPAL) and subsidiaries of NAC, namely, Taganito Mining Corp. (TMC) in Claver; SDN and Cagdianao Mining Corp. (CMC) in Dinagat Islands.

According to SDN vice governor Geed Gokiangkee, who spoke on behalf of governor Francisco “Lalo” Matugas, cases of COVID-19 took an unfortunate spike in October 2020.

The molecular laborator is located in barangay Bonifacio and is expected to provide efficient support to Red Cross chapters in both Surigao del Norte and Surigao del Sur.