DOT eyes pilot study of saliva-based COVID-19 test for screening tourists
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Tourism (DOT) will soon launch a pilot study of saliva-based COVID-19 testing for screening tourists, Secretary Bernadette Romulo-Puyat told senators on Monday during a hearing on her department’s proposed 2021 budget.
Puyat noted that a survey previously released by the DOT showed that 77 percent of its respondents would want to travel but could not afford to undergo reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing.
So the DOT started looking for alternatives as effective but as the RT-PCR test but “more affordable.”
It would do pilot studies on both antigen and saliva-based testing.
Puyat did not indicate the area that would be part of the pilot studies.
The saliva-based tests will involve the collection of samples of a patient’s saliva.
The DOT will shoulder the cost of the pilot testing, according to Puyat.
At present, the DOT is conducting a pilot study on the use of antigen tests to detect coronavirus infections in Baguio City, which is one of the tourist sites that have so far reopened.
In the Baguio, travelers to the city were given the antigen test and RT-PCR test. The results of the two tests were then compared.
Sen. Nancy Binay said the DOT could tap the Department of Health (DOH) for help in shouldering the cost of the pilot testing.
Binay noted that P10 billion had been earmarked for testing under the DOH as provided by the Bayanihan to Recover as One Act.
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