Bacolod City has launched the first bio-safe Swab Mobile sampling unit in the Philippines on May 7.
“The Swab Mobile is aimed at ensuring the protection of medical front-liners as they do swab tests and at the same time to avoid unnecessary movements of patients as we will test them wherever they are,” Bacolod Mayor Evelio Leonardia said.
The Bacolod Filipino-Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (BFCCCI) turned over the Swab Mobile to the city.
“This is the first bio-safe Swab Mobile in the Philippines and this was proudly made in Bacolod City,” Loren Kara Leonardia, daughter of the mayor and project coordinator, said at the launching and turnover rites at the Bacolod City Government Center.
Kara initiated the project in partnership with Engr. Rane Joseph Saril and his son Pierce Allesandro, who provided the technical expertise to create it. Engr. Rommel Carisma did the engineering drawings.
The BFCCCI was led by Clifford Uy, Willy Au, James Chua, Alfredo Barcelona, Alfonso Choa, and Romie Cortez.
“This Swab Mobile can be used for our joint campaign to intervene in the health status of our constituents,” Uy said.
Representing the city together with Leonardia were Rep. Greg Gasataya, Councilors Renecito Novero, Simple Distrito, Archie Baribar, and Bartolome Orola, and City Administrator Em Ang.
Local businesses JMC Bacolod, Bacolod Polaris Enterprises, CT Glass, and Robiank Marketing and Advertising combined efforts to assemble the Mobile Unit.
Dr. Julius Drilon, chief of the DOH regional hospital, said the project is in line with the construction of the regional hospital's bio-laboratory scheduled to operate this June.
Saril shared that they used a mobile unit abroad during the SARS outbreak to help protect health workers from being exposed during sampling.
This came from the observation that when a patient goes to the hospital for testing they are exposed to up to nine health workers, putting the medical staff’s health at risk.
Saril, the project supervisor, is a mechanical and bio-medical engineer with 20 years of experience in creating bio-safe labs and facilities in Asia and the Pacific. He helped during the SARS and H1N1 outbreak.
Kara had pushed for this project because she was alarmed by the number of doctors and nurses who had succumbed to COVID-19 in Manila during the earlier weeks of the pandemic. She also hopes that the Swab Mobile will give local health workers confidence that they are kept safe as they go about their duties when swabbing for samples.
Asked why he decided to work on the project, Saril said: “With all the experience I’ve had abroad for so many years, it’s time to come home and put it to use here. I feel lucky to have the chance to help.”
A second Swab Mobile is expected to be donated by BioPower Group this week.