Gov’t studying to use antigen test kits to screen tourists for COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — The government is mulling to use antigen test kits to possibly identify tourists entering the country for SARS-CoV-2, the causative agent of COVID-19, Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday.
In a webinar of the Union of Local Authorities of the Philippines (ULAP), Health Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire said the health department is studying the aspects of antigen test kits to augment testing capacity in the country.
“We are currently studying yung buong aspect ng antigen test because IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force) is interested in using this antigen testing for tourism bubbles. Ito yung mga areas natin na may tourist spots para pagpasok ng ating mga tourists pwede sila i-antigen test,” she said.
(We are currently studying the whole aspect of the antigen test because the IATF is interested in using the antigen testing for tourism bubbles. These are the areas that have tourist spots to allow tourists to come in and have them tested through antigen tests.)
According to DOH, antigen tests use Nasopharyngea or Oropharyngeal swab for the collection of specimens but it uses laboratory or health care settings for validation of results. It is different from the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) which uses biosafety level 2 laboratory for validation of samples from patients.
If antigen tests show positive results, it means there are “presumptive COVID-19” but if it yields negative results, it means COVID-19 is unlikely.
Vergeire said the antigen is more reliable than the rapid test kits but it would need RT/PCR for confirmation of the virus.
“Ang antigen test ay mas accurate po siya kaysa sa antibody test natin (It is more accurate than antibody test) but anyway both rapid antibody test and antigen test are not a stand-alone test. They will still need to confirm with an RT/PCR test,” Vergeire said. [ac]
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