Zero new COVID-19 cases linked to low lab turnout

By Emme Rose Santiagudo

Three consecutive days of zero new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Western Visayas can be attributed to the low turnout of laboratory results released by the Western Visayas Medical Center (WVMC) in Mandurriao, Iloilo City, according to the Department of Health-Center for Health Development in Western Visayas (DOH-CHD) 6.

“For the past three days, one of the three days, manubo ang gina-release nga results sang aton sub-national reference laboratory. Last Tuesday, only three laboratory results were released so there is a low laboratory turn-out,” Dr. Ma. Sophia Pulmones, spokesperson of DOH-CHD 6, said in an online press briefing on Wednesday.

Latest data from the health department on Wednesday showed that the region has yet to add new cases for the third straight day.

Based on Case Bulletin No. 20, all 45 laboratory results released by WVMC tested negative for COVID-19.

On Tuesday, WVMC only released three laboratory results which also yielded negative results.

DOH-CHD also recorded zero COVID-19 cases on Monday following the negative laboratory results of 19 individuals.

According to Pulmones, the low turnout of laboratory results is due to the recalibration and quality assurance conducted by the WVMC during the Holy Week.

Pulmones said the procedure is necessary to ensure the quality of results being released by the laboratory.

“During the Holy Week, nag-conduct sila quality assurance and recalibration and calibration sang ila mga equipment and machines. Ang ini nga procedure, ginaubra sang aton mga laboratories to ensure nga quality ang ginapagwa nila nga results,” she said.

WVMC, as the only subnational reference laboratory in the region, also shifted its testing protocol and procedure as recommended by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Pulmones added.

Moreover, Pulmones said WVMC is also conducting parallel testing of new testing kits where the results undergo validation by RITM before being released.

Gamay ang laboratory results for the past three days, because bago ang ginagamit nila nga testing kits. Kon bag-o ang testing kits nga gamiton they have to do parallel testing or parallel run to ensure the quality. Results of laboratory testing will have to be submitted pa sa RITM for validation for results.
Once navalidate na sang RITM ang results, the WVMC can release it,” she said.

Since parallel testing has already been finished, Pulmones said that the region can expect an increase in the laboratory results from WVMC in the coming days.

As of Wednesday, the total COVID-19 cases in the region remain at 40 with seven deaths and seven recoveries.