The Philippines has allowed the use of the antigen test that detects cases of COVID-19 rapidly, Malacañang said Tuesday.
The antigen test may be used as a pre-boarding requirement for asymptomatic domestic tourists before departure and travel to tourist destinations or as a requirement upon entry at the place of destination if in accordance with the protocols of the local government unit, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said.
It may also be used in the testing of domestic tourists who turn symptomatic at the place of destination, if without RT-PCR capacity, he added.
Roque maintained that the RT-PCR test remains the gold standard for confirmatory testing because it detects the virus that causes COVID-19.
According to the US Food and Drug Administration, the antigen tests “quickly detect fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs.”
The US FDA said this type of diagnostic test can provide results in minutes, but negative results may need to be confirmed with a PCR test before making treatment decisions.
The use of antigen test is part of the interim omnibus guidelines on surveillance, case finding, contact tracing, quarantine or isolation, and testing for COVID-19 approved by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases on Monday.
The guidelines provide for proper clinical assessment, which is anchored on two main factors, namely, symptoms and exposure, that will serve as the basis for quarantine, isolation, testing, discharge, travel and return-to-work decisions.
The availability of the test, best time to use the test, turnaround time of test results and test specificity and sensitivity are the factors to be considered in determining the right test.
The Philippines has so far tested 2.65 million people for COVID-19, according to the Department of Health on Monday. The country has also reported 238,727 confirmed cases and 3,890 deaths. — RSJ, GMA News