‘Inconclusive’ rapid COVID-19 test results not basis for court lockdown, says Midas
MANILA, Philippines – The Office of the Court Administrator (OCA) has ordered local courts to refrain from imposing a lockdown based on positive COVID-19 results from the rapid antibody test.
Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez issued the latest circular based on the updated interim guidelines on expanded testing for COVID-19.
The Interim Guideline stated that “rapid antibody-based test kits shall not be used as standalone tests to definitively diagnose or rule out COVID-19…because these must be used in conjunction with [Reverse Transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR)].”
Court officers and staff who tested positive in the rapid test will have to undergo confirmatory tests or the RT-PCR test. While waiting for the result of the confirmatory test, they will have to undergo self-quarantine or be admitted to a hospital depending on the recommendation of a medical doctor.
“In the interim, courts expose to subjects who tested positive using the rapid antibody test shall neither be closed nor locked down. Initial contact tracing for monitoring of individuals who may thereafter exhibit symptoms shall be conducted. Symptomatic individuals shall undergo self-quarantine for fourteen (14) days or until they become asymptomatic, whichever is longer,” read the circular.
Marquez also advised local courts to adhere to the DOH updated guidelines on contact tracing,
“Should the confirmatory RT-PCR (swab) test yield negative results, the exposed court shall remain open and shall strictly observe courtroom practices aimed to effectively prevent the spread of COVID-19,” Marquez added.
As an additional safety protocol, all visitors and court users are required to provide their contact information upon entry in the hall of justice for purposes necessary for contact tracing.
The circular also said individual branches and offices within the hall of justice might also require the same registration upon entry to the said branches and offices.
“Court users who are later confirmed for COVID-19 shall likewise immediately inform the court they have visited,” Marquez said.
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