MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) has encouraged local government units (LGUs) anew to conduct active case finding for suspected COVID-19 patients after recording a decrease in testing output.
According to Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, LGUs should actively find suspected cases of the disease in order to increase the number of tests and better determine if the Omicron variant is already present in the country.
“Actually napag-obserbahan na po natin ito, that for these past weeks, medyo bumababa po ang output ng ating laboratories. But it is not really just the operationalization of the laboratories. Ang mga laboratoryo naman natin ay hindi nagiging operational usually on Sundays dahil nagmemetainance po sila,” she said at the Laging Handa public briefing.
(Actually, we have already observed that there was a decrease in testing output in laboratories in the past weeks. But it is not really just the operationalization of laboratories. Some laboratories are usually not operational on Sundays because of maintenance.)
“Ang kailangan nating ma-engganyo muli ay ang ating LGU at epidemiology and surveillance units na kailangan magkaroon tayo ulit ng active case finding, mahanap ‘yung mga taong may sintomas o nagiging exposed sa mga maysakit para ma-i-patest sila at tumaas pa uli ang ating laboratory outputs,” she added.
(We need to again encourage LGUs and epidemiology and surveillance units to conduct active case finding and find people with symptoms or were exposed to patients so they can be tested and laboratory outputs can increase.)
Vergeire further said: “We need to improve on our testing so we can better detect and determine if the Omicron variant is here.”
However, health officials also noted that the DOH has not observed any clustering of cases in the country that could indicate the presence of the new variant.
The Omicron variant, first discovered by South African scientists, has 50 mutations, including up to 32 mutations located in the spike protein, which experts say could indicate increased transmissibility and immune escape for the virus.