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Press Release/June 27, 2020

Department of Health (DOH) – CALABARZON (Cavite, Laguna, Batangas, Rizal, Quezon) on June 23, 2020, formally opened the first GeneXpert Laboratory in the region located at the Batangas Medical Center, the regions first and foremost regional hospital to provide immediate and reliable laboratory information for the treatment, prevention, control and management of COVID-19 and other diseases.

“Due to the current state of health emergency and the surge in the number of COVID-19 cases na patuloy na dumarami, kailangang gumawa ng paraan at agarang aksyon upang magkaroon ng augmentation sa kakulangan ng laboratory testing facility sa rehiyon. At sa pamamagitan nga nitong Gene Expert Laboratory na ito ay makakapagbigay tayo ng agarang resulta at mabisang paraan upang mapigilan ang mabilis na pagkalat ng anumang sakit,” Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo stated in his opening message.

“This will not only be used during this time of crisis but will serve beyond COVID-19 that is why it is very important for our health personnel to continuously undergo training for various diseases for their continuing proficiency in order for us to be ready in case anther health emergency may present itself,” he emphasized.

The laboratory will be using a Cartridge-Based Technology (Xpert-Xpress SARS COV 2 Rapid PCR Assay) for the assessment and evaluation of specimens.

According to Janairo, the laboratory is equipped with a real-time Reverse Transcriptase Rapid Polymerase Chain Reaction (rRT-PCR) which will be provided by the Lyceum of the Philippines University Batangas through a tripartite partnership that includes the DOH regional office and the Batangas Medical Center (BatMC).

With the addition of the Gene Expert Lab in Batangas, it is expected that more cases of the new corona virus disease in the region will be quickly identified and given immediate treatment. It is estimated that about 30 COVID-19 specimens can be examined a day.

Janairo added that three medical technologists and 3 analysts will be assigned to the laboratory including administrative staff composed of encoder, receptionist and laboratory aide.

The GeneXpert laboratory was initiated by Director Janairo through a letter of intent submitted to DOH for the accreditation of the proposed COVID-19 testing laboratory at BatMC for CaLaBaRZon on March 24, 2020. The DOH- Health Facilities and Services Regulatory Bureau then granted its License to Operate Certificate on June 18, 2020.

To further increase testing laboratories in the country, the DOH on April 16, 2020, promulgated Administrative Order No.2020-0014 which provided for the interim use of the laboratories of the national TB control Program as COVID-19 testing laboratories performing rapid PCR testing for SARS-CoV-2.

The inauguration of the laboratory was led by Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo, Batangas Provincial Health Officer Rosvilinda Ozaeta, Batangas City Health Officer Rosanna Barrion. Batangas Medical Center (BatMC) Chief Ramoncito Magnaye, First District Congresswoman Eileen Ermita-Buhain and 4th District Congresswoman Lianda Bolilia.

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Batangas Medical Center GeneXpert staff undergoing a three-day proficiency training on Xpert Xpress SARS-CoV-2 Assay from April 28-30, 2020 in preparation for the opening of the laboratory. (Photo courtesy of Dr. Annie Valdez, Chairman of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, BatMC) 

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DOH-CALABARZON Regional Director Eduardo C. Janairo leads the ribbon cutting ceremony together with officials of the Batangas Province and Batangas Medical Center staff for the  opening of the first GeneXpert Laboratory in the region on June 23, 2020 in Batangas City.  

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Officials from DOH-CALABARZON, Batangas Medical Center and Provincial Government of Batangas posed for a souvenir photo after the inauguration of the first GeneXpert Laboratory of the region located at the Batangas Medical Center on June 23, 2020 in Batangas City.