#COVID-19 Regional Updates (05/21/20)

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3 more COVID-19 test labs open in Mindanao; case count at 425

TEST machine — CDO-CIO

THREE laboratories in different regions in Mindanao started coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) testing this week, boosting capacity in the southern islands where there are now five facilities for rapid polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. The Cotabato Regional and Medical Center (CRMC) announced on Wednesday that it has received its license to operate, making it the first COVID-19 laboratory in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM). The BARMM government provided a P14.1-million fund for the procurement and upgrading of medical and laboratory supplies. “We congratulate the CRMC on their recent accreditation as a sub-national testing laboratory for COVID-19. This development will greatly help the Bangsamoro and Region XII as we adopt the national strategy of D.I.T.R or detect, isolate, treat, and reintegrate,” BARMM Chief Minister Ahod Al Haj Murad Ebrahim said in a statement. The CRMC lab in Cotabato City will also be processing samples from neighboring SOCCSKSARGEN Region, composed of the provinces of South Cotabato, Cotabato, Sultan Kudarat, and Sarangani and General Santos City. In the Zamboanga Peninsula Region, the Zamboanga City Medical Center (ZCMC) formally opened its second facility Monday, located at the Department of Agriculture’s (DA) diagnostic laboratory for animal diseases. ZCMC’s own laboratory has been conducting tests for the coronavirus. The satellite DA laboratory will also be serving the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, and Tawi-Tawi, which are under BARMM but more accessible to Zamboanga City. In Region 10, the Northern Mindanao Medical Center (NMMC) in Cagayan de Oro City also started testing last May 20. NMMC Medical Specialist said on Tuesday that they were just waiting for the official certificate of accreditation from the Department of Health. One of the first COVID-19 laboratories to operate in the country is the Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City. Several others are currently in various stages of the accreditation process. As of May 20, there were 425 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Mindanao, with the highest in the Davao Region at 222, followed by Zamboanga Peninsula with 147. Most of the cases are concentrated within the highly-urbanized cities of Davao and Zamboanga. Local governments in the entire southern islands have eased quarantine rules but inter-province travels are still largely restricted. — with a report from Maya M. Padillo