PNP mulls Covid-19 antigen tests on frontliners

THE Philippine National Police (PNP) is studying the use of antigen tests to detect the novel coronavirus on its personnel, especially those assigned to man border control points.

The antigen test will be used whenever there is an immediate need to find out whether a policeman has contracted Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19).

The PNP currently has two diagnostics laboratories that use the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test to detect the virus.

Each laboratory, located in Camp Crame and in Camp Sotero Cabahug, is capable of conducting 150 to 180 tests a day.

“We are also moving to the antigen laboratory so that we would be able to come up with fast results. I have already instructed the Health Service to study the antigen so that we will be able to use it properly. We will use the antigen if it is necessary that we would want the result within 30 minutes or one hour,” PNP Chief Camilo Cascolan said in a television interview.

Based on the study conducted by the US Food and Drug Administration, the antigen tests “quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs.”

It said such type of diagnostic test can provide results in minutes, but a PCR test is necessary to confirm negative results before making treatment decisions.

As of September 15, 5,206 cops have tested positive for the virus. Of this number, 1,439 were active cases while there were 16 fatalities.

The PNP said majority of the cases were in the National Capital Region.

Cops who tested positive are required to isolate for 14 days and undergo another test after the quarantine.

Once cleared, they have to rest for seven to 10 more days before going back to duty. (Third Anne Peralta-Malonzo/SunStar Philippines)


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