DOH discourages use of rapid tests for mass screening workers

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The Department of Health or DOH discourages use of rapid tests for mass screening workers during a discussion in an forum.

The department stressed that unreliable results that may only worsen the spread of the coronavirus.

The announcement of DOH on rapid tests comes after seven medical groups warned about the increased usage of rapid antibody test kits. They consider it “possibly responsible” for the latest surge of coronavirus cases in the country.

“The DOH has always had that position (on rapid testing),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters during the forum.

Vergeire recounted the department’s on rapid testing and the return-to-work policy for the gradual reopening of the economy.

Vergeire also noted that according to an Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases resolution, testing is not required for a person to return to work.

“Lagi nating ine-emphasize ‘yung rapid antibody test kasi ang dinedetect niyan ‘yung antibody na makikita mo lang to after so many days if you really have the illness. Kung wala ka namang illness wala ka talgang makukuha diyan,” Vergeire said.

“Ang isa pang caveat nitong rapid antibody test is that it has been shown with evidence na talagang maraming nagfa-false positive or false-negative with this kind of test. Kaya nga hindi natin siya dapat gamitin for screening,” she added.

A joint statement from the Philippine Society for Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, Philippine College of Physicians, Philippine Medical Association, Philippine College of Chest Physicians, Philippine Pediatric Society, Philippine College of Occupational Medicine and Philippine Society of Public Health Physicians expressed concern over the consequences of the continued use of rapid antibody tests for clearance to work.

DOH data shows that there are 67,456 confirmed Covid-19 cases in the Philippines, including 22,465 recoveries and 1,831 deaths.

Health officials say the continued rise in coronavirus cases in the is due to the improved testing capacity and expanded contact tracing as a result of loosening quarantine measures.