DOH readies guidelines on test tools
“The objective of omnibus guidelines is for us to be able to put in one document all of these available testing methodologies in the country for COVID-19… The guidelines will show how and when the test kits must be used,” explained DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Walter Bollozos, file
DOH readies guidelines on test tools
Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - August 9, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) will come out with omnibus guidelines on the use of COVID-19 testing methods that are currently available in the country.

“The objective of omnibus guidelines is for us to be able to put in one document all of these available testing methodologies in the country for COVID-19… The guidelines will show how and when the test kits must be used,” explained DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

She said the available draft guidelines would be submitted to experts for comment. After the experts have given their opinions, the document will be referred to the Laboratory Expert Panel who will give their final comments before it will be submitted to the DOH Executive Committee and the Inter-Agency Task Force.

Vergeire recalled that the country started with realtime-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, which is considered as the gold standard for COVID-19 testing. This was followed by the rapid antibody test kits (RATs) and the rapid antigen test kit.

She explained that RATs should be used only for screening because it does not detect the virus but the antibodies, which only comes out five to seven days after a person becomes ill.

The RT-PCR, on the other hand, can detect the virus two days prior to illness.

“It is very sensitive. Even if you have completed your 14 days (of quarantine), even if it’s already one month, the test can still detect the virus,” Vergeire said.

While antigen testing is appropriate for use during the first five days of illness, she stressed that this cannot be used if a person is “pre-symptomatic” or is already beyond the sixth to seventh day of illness because this will produce a negative result.

“Hopefully the omnibus guidelines will guide all of our implementers, the general public.  They would know which test to use and in what stage of their illness.  It will provide us with harmonized guidelines,” Vergeire said.

“Eventually, there will still be other innovations that will come out in the coming weeks or months.  To prevent having misleading information and to make sure that the general public and health facilities are guided on what they are supposed to use, the guidelines will show where a particular kit should be used,” she added.

COVID-19 TESTING DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
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