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COVID-19 saliva test still under review in Central Visayas

Caecent No-ot Magsumbol (The Freeman) - April 9, 2021 - 12:00am

CEBU, Philippines —  Even as the Department of Health has already issued guidelines on the use and administration of the saliva-based Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing, its Central Visayas regional office will have to wait yet for the result of its own validation before giving it a go here.

DOH-7 Dr.Mary Jean Loreche earlier said their validation would most likely be done next week.

DOH said the conduct of saliva tests should only be done on certain conditions and are deemed valid when such conditions are met.

For the saliva-based RT-PCR testing, morning saliva is preferred as specimen since it has higher viral load although specimen collection may also be done at any other time.

Proper collection procedure should also be strictly observed where patients should not eat, drink, brush their teeth, use mouthwash or smoke for at least 30 minutes before sample collection.

Only trained saliva specimen collectors should administer the test and only medical doctors should interpret the results of these tests as results need to be correlated with the overall clinical and epidemiological context of the patient, the DOH statement said.

Under the DM No. 2021-0161, it was also stated that only licensed COVID-19 laboratories certified by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) are allowed to perform the saliva-based RT-PCR.

Point-of-care clinics, specimen collecting facilities, and disease reporting units can perform saliva specimen collection as well providing that the specimen collectors have undergone training from the referral licensed COVID-19 laboratory certified to perform saliva testing.

Aside from that, the said laboratories or facilities may only use test kits which have passed the performance validation conducted by the RITM or other RITM-recognized laboratories, and have a special certification from the Food and Drug Administration.

DOH, however, maintains that the nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swab specimens remain as the standard specimen for the diagnosis of COVID-19 through RT-PCR testing.

The saliva-based RT PCR is expected to expand the country’s testing capacity especially as cases in COVID-19 continue to rise, especially that it is easier to do since it only needs saliva.

In Cebu City, however, EOC’s data showed that the active cases are at 937 with nine deaths so far in the first seven days.

In DOH’s own case bulletin on April 7, Cebu City still has 1,149 as some of its recoveries are yet to be validated.

Lapu-Lapu City, on the other hand, has 799, Mandaue City with 802 while Cebu Province has 1,123 active cases.

Bohol for its part, has 339, Negros Oriental with 175 and Siquijor with 27 cases. — KQD (FREEMAN)

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