MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) advised the public on Wednesday that reported COVID-19 cases are expected to increase with the future inclusion of rapid antigen test results in the tally of infections.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said rapid antigen testing will be used for those with COVID-19 symptoms, those who were exposed to a patient, or close contacts of confirmed cases in the NCR Plus, which covers Metro Manila, Cavite, Rizal, Bulacan, and Laguna.
She said the government’s objective in incorporating rapid antigen testing in detecting cases in Metro Manila and adjacent provinces is to “speed up our response” to the pandemic.
“Therefore when you do that, we expect tataas po talaga [ang cases] kasi mas matetest na natin ang mga tao. Mas makikita na natin kung sino ang positibo at negatibo. Isasama natin ito doon sa ating official list of positive cases,” Vergeire said in an online press briefing.
(Therefore when you do that, we expect that cases will increase because we will be able to test more people. We will see better who among the people is positive or negative. We will include this data on the official list of positive cases.)
However, Vergeire assured that there will be a “segregation” of cases detected through reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction tests and antigen tests to better monitor those found to have COVID-19 through the latter type of test.
She added that existing DOH guidelines indicate the use of rapid antigen testing when COVID-19 cases are rapidly increasing.
“The decision was for us to use this rapid antigen para mas ma speed-up natin ang pag-identify ng mga taong apektado (to speed-up the identification of those affected) or positive for this disease, [so] we can easily quarantine them for us to cut transmission,” the health official explained.
The antigen test, according to Vergeire, will still not be used for COVID-19 screening at work or in certain establishments and will only be limited for purposes identified by the DOH.
Malacañang earlier said the government plans to procure 500,000 rapid antigen test kits to ramp up COVID-19 testing. Vergeire said an initial 30,000 kits are arriving soon upon the completion of financial documents. The World Health Organization has likewise promised to deliver another 20,000 kits for antigen testing.
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For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.
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