By Ma. Teresa Montemayor
MANILA (Philippines News Agency) – The inclusion of rapid antigen test results on the official list of positive Covid-19 cases would lead to higher number of new confirmed infections, a health official said Wednesday.
“Isasama natin ito sa ating (We’ll include these [results] on our) official list of positive cases but we’ll have segregations – these are the RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction), these are the rapid antigen test, so we know and can monitor the use of this rapid antigen test,” Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online media forum.
She said rapid antigen test kits will be used in the NCR Plus — National Capital Region (NCR), Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, and Rizal— bubble to speed up the identification of people positive for Covid-19 and easily quarantine them to contain transmission.
“This will be used in communities where cases are high…so they can facilitate our contact tracing, our testing, our isolation and quarantine strategies. Based on existing guidelines, antigen test kit can be used as long as there’s an outbreak situation and that’s what we’re having right now,” she said.
Vergeire warned against the use of rapid antigen test for other purposes, stressing that the DOH is still not recommending it in screening for jobs and establishments, among others.
To ensure the test’s accuracy, concerned individuals are advised to observe the regulatory standards and use only the kits under World Health Organization’s Emergency Use Listing and that are registered by the country’s Food and Drug Administration.
“It’s going to be a confirmatory test in this outbreak situation in the NCR plus bubble, so if you were tested through antigen, you need not have a repeat test using RT-PCR especially if you’re symptomatic, the sensitivity of antigen is really high,” Vergeire said. Also, those who don’t have symptoms but were deemed exposed or those called close contacts. One person can have more than a hundred contacts and rapid antigen test can be used to all of them.”
On Tuesday, Testing czar Vivencio Dizon said the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has decided to add 30,000 antigen testing per day in NCR Plus on top of the average 50,000 RT-PCR daily testing nationwide, bringing the country-wide testing capacity of around 80,000 per day. (PNA)