THE first accredited molecular laboratory in Eastern Visayas will boost the country’s fight against the deadly coronavirus disease (Covid-19) in the region.

House Majority Leader and Leyte Representative Ferdinand Martin Romualdez and his wife Tingog party-list Representative Yedda Marie Romualdez said this on Saturday, May 9, following the certification issued by Department of Health (DOH) Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago Jr. on Friday which said that the laboratory set up in Tacloban City can now perform independent testing for SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19 by real time polymerase chain reaction (PCR).

The molecular laboratory is located at the old Eastern Visayas Regional Medical Center (EVRMC) along Magsaysay Boulevard in Tacloban City.

“We can now help ourselves with our capability to handle the screening for Covid-19. This is a very crucial key in managing, containing and flattening the curve of Covid-19 infections,” the Romualdez couple said.

The couple admitted that the lack of testing centers “may have caused the underreporting of Covid-19 cases and has been clogging up the already overloaded hospitals in the country.”

“The early detection of potential Covid-19 cases will help address the fear that the growing health crisis may overwhelm the healthcare facilities,” the couple said in a statement.

Previously, specimen from the region had to be sent to the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center (VSMMC) in Cebu City through the help of the Philippine Coast Guard (PSG).

Dr. Minerva Molon, DOH regional director, said the test center will start its operation on Monday, May 11.

“This is timely since figures in Tarangnan (in Samar) is increasing and we will no longer wait for five days to get the results,” she said.

Meanwhile, Philip Jude Acide, Tingog’s chief political affairs officer, disclosed that “the strongest boost to the project was when Reps. Martin Romualdez and Yedda Romualdez readily agreed to purchase from their personal funds the needed RT PCR machine for the testing center.”

Tingog also thanked Tacloban City Mayor Alfred Romualdez “for working very hard” to help achieved the Covid-19 testing center .

Other personalities and agencies who were instrumental in opening the first Covid-19 testing center in Eastern Visayas were DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III; DOH-Eastern Visayas though Dr. Molon; Dr. Aileen Riel-Espina, Clive Ivan Mercado and Carlo Chris Serrano Apurillo of the Philippine Association of Medical Technologists, Inc. (PAMET) Leyte-Biliran Chapter; DOH-Assistant Regional Director Exuh Sabalberino, Liza Balila, Dr. Antonio Lim and Dr. Raul Destura of the University of the Philippines (UP) Institute of Health; volunteer staff of PAMET, EVRMC and DOH headed by Dr. Kae Parilla Portula, Bing Hubilla, Engr. Bong Joca; officials and employees of the EVRMC and the different hospitals, especially Tacloban City Hospital, Remedios Trinidad Romualdez (RTR) Hospital and St. Scholastica College, Tacloban; and Presidential Adviser for the Visayas Secretary Mike Dino, among other government officials.

The Romualdez couple also lauded the help of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and Philippine Air Force (PAF), which transported the RITM-DOH inspection team, along with the RT PCR machine, from Manila to Tacloban.

Acidre commended An Waray party-list for donating some air conditioning units and the Sangguniang Panlalawigan ng Leyte for issuing a resolution endorsing the creation of a Covid-19 test center for Eastern Visayas.

“They deserve credit for always going the extra mile and working round the clock just to ensure the timely realization of the project. With the need to realize the testing lab in Eastern Visayas at the soonest possible became even more apparent - help came from several donors and benefactors,” Acidre said.

As of Saturday, Eastern Visayas has 19 confirmed cases of Covid-19. (SunStar Philippines)