The government will use COVID-19 antigen tests for screening evacuees to prevent the virus’s spread in the typhoon-hit areas, Malacañang said Tuesday.
However, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque could not specify which areas have already implemented the antigen testing.
“Kung hindi po available ang PCR test nandiyan din po ‘yung antigen tests. Hindi ko po masisigurado na lahat sila ay mabibigyan pero magkakaroon po ng testing sa mga evacuation centers lalung-lalo na po doon sa mayroong sintomas,” he said at a news conference in Cagayan.
The Department of Health said the antigen test detects the presence of viral proteins and is best used to identify acute or early COVID-19 infection.
The OCTA Research Team earlier urged the government to provide adequate and accessible testing, effective contact tracing, and supportive isolation facilities to typhoon victims staying at evacuation centers.
In its report for the period November 9 to 15, the experts from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas urged local government units to improve strategies and conditions at evacuation centers to ensure COVID-19 is not transmitted among residents displaced by the typhoon and flooding.
“Given the reality that more typhoons are set to visit the country in the coming weeks, we suggest that LGUs seriously consider improving their current evacuation strategies and plans to prevent further viral transmissions during a disaster by ensuring that minimum health standards are followed in evacuation centers apart from the provision of adequate and accessible testing, effective contact tracing and supportive isolation facilities to families stranded in these facilities,” the OCTA researchers said.
Evacuees to be tested using COVID-19 antigen tests – Palace
Meanwhile, the team said that for the monitoring period from November 9 to 15, the following LGUs had been determined to be high-risk.
- Baguio City
- La Trinidad and Itogon (Benguet)
- Batangas City (Batangas)
- Lucena and Lopez (Quezon)
- Davao City (Davao del Sur)
- Pagadian (Zamboanga Del Sur)
“We list LGUs of concern or high-risk areas based on high cases per day, high positivity rate, high attack rate, and/or high hospital occupancy,” the researchers said.
“We are concerned that these LGUs may experience high hospital burden in the coming weeks that may stress their health care systems and overwhelm their medical front-liners,” they added.