AS SOME local governments develop the capability to conduct tests to detect the novel coronavirus, the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases listed the guidelines for the government’s expanded testing program.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, IATF spokesperson, on Monday, April 20, said expanded testing "is defined as testing all individuals who are at-risk of contracting Covid-19 infection.”
”This includes the following groups: (1) suspect cases or (2) individuals with relevant history of travel and exposure (or contact), whether symptomatic or asymptomatic, and (3) health care workers with possible exposure, whether symptomatic or asymptomatic,” he said during the regular briefing by the IATF on Monday.
He said the sub-groups of at-risk individuals arranged in order of greatest to lowest need for testing are:
Subgroup A: Patients or healthcare workers with severe/critical symptoms, relevant history of travel/contact
Subgroup B: Patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, relevant history of travel/contact, and considered vulnerable
Subgroup C: Patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, relevant history of travel/contact
Subgroup D: Patients or healthcare workers with no symptoms but relevant history of travel/contact
Nograles said all subnational laboratories in the country are directed "to allocate between 20 to 30 percent of their daily testing capacity for health workers and the remaining 70 to 80 percent for patients.”
He likewise emphasized that based on current available evidence, "real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing is the confirmatory test. In the Philippines, this pertains to using RT-PCR test kits that are approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and validated by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RTIM).”
Rapid antibody-based test kits cannot be used as standalone tests to definitively diagnose or rule out Covid-19, Nograles said.
But he also said "care must be exercised to not unduly consume RT-PCR test kits for the sake of confirmation.”
Only rapid antibody-based test kits approved by the FDA and locally-validated by the RITM or the Department of Science and Technology, said Nograles, may be used. (SunStar Philippines from PR)