First COVID 19 testing center in Northern Philippines is now Open

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The first COVID 19 testing center in Ilocos has opened after getting a certification from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC) in Region 1 can now perform tests for coronavirus disease after passing all the examinations needed to conduct testing using the Real-Time (RT) Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) machine.

“Effective today, we can now do the testing but we will run sample starting tomorrow. And that’s good news not only for the province of La Union but for the entire region as well,” said Dr. Eduardo M. Badua, ITRMC medical center chief announced.

“They looked into everything from the equipment, facilities such as the design and negative pressure rooms, and the trainings and capabilities of the people who will work in the lab, and we complied with all the requirements,” Badua added.

The City Government of San Fernando, La Union confirmed the certification on its Facebook post, on May 21: “The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has CERTIFIED the Ilocos Training and Regional Medical Center (ITRMC) to be a COVID-19 PCR Testing Laboratory.”

For now, the facility’s testing capacity is 50 specimens per day. According to Badua, the number of test results also depend on the number of specimens that will be referred to them by the Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU) of the DOH.

The turn-around time for results is 48 hours. “When we say 48 hours, that is 48 hours after the receipt of the specimen in the laboratory,” the ITRMC chief explained.

12 medical technologists will manned the laboratory and one laboratory head will supervise the operations of the facility.

He added, “We have conducted an in-house training on biosafety apart from being enrolled to webinars conducted by the University of the Philippines on biosafety”.

“We have the support of our medical center chief who provided us ample supply of PPEs for at least three-month operation,” Dr. Rosales shared.


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