Red Cross to build COVID-19 lab in Passi City to boost Western Visayas testing capacity
THE PHILIPPINE Red Cross (PRC) will set up a testing laboratory for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Passi City, the Iloilo provincial government announced Wednesday. Iloilo Governor Arthur R. Defensor Jr. requested for the facility, citing the need to increase the testing capacity in the province and the Western Visayas Region as a whole. Philippine Red Cross Chair and Senator Richard J. Gordon, in a letter to Mr. Defensor, said, “I am pleased to inform you that PRC will establish one in Passi City in our PRC Regional Logistics and Disaster Management Training Center to serve the adjacent provinces of Antique, Aklan, and Capiz.” The laboratory is expected to be operational within October, with a capacity of 2,000 tests daily. Mr. Defensor, in a statement, said there is “a pressing need to increase the testing capacity of the province with the ongoing arrival of Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs) and locally-stranded individuals from Metro Manila and other high risk areas.” The provincial government is also building its own laboratory at the Iloilo Provincial Hospital. Existing laboratories in the region are located at the Western Visayas Medical Center and two private hospitals. “(T)hese are not sufficient for the requirements as we transition to a new normal,” Mr. Defensor said. As of September 29, Western Visayas recorded 11,413 COVID-19 cases, of which 4,161 are active. Bacolod City has the highest total cases at 3,712, followed by Iloilo City with 2,264. There are 1,942 classified under returning residents, both locally stranded and overseas workers. The rest are in the following provinces: Negros Occidental, 2,099; Iloilo, 826; Capiz, 348; Guimaras, 89; and Antique, 40.