DOH drafting guidelines on the use of various COVID-19 test kits

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Wednesday that it is currently crafting additional guidelines on the use of different test kits for coronavirus disease (COVID-19). 

"To help the public and our medical community, the DOH is currently drafting omnibus guidelines on the use of different test kits. The guidelines will enumerate the purpose of each test and the conditions they may be used in," the DOH said in a statement on Wednesday, August 5.

The DOH’s statement comes after medical associations on Tuesday, August 4, reiterated their call to stop the use of rapid antibody test (RAT) as it does not detect if a person is still infected with the virus, but only said if antibodies are present in one's blood. 

The DOH has previously issued statements that RATs should not be used as a stand-alone test to “definitively diagnose or rule out” COVID-19. To note, RATs only detect the presence of antibodies. It can produce results in minutes by just drawing blood samples from a patient. 

“Rapid test can only be used for baseline testing or for checking seroprevalence every 14 days, and must be used in conjunction with RT-PCR tests,” the DOH said. 

“Consultation with a licensed physician on the purpose and use of rapid antibody testing is necessary to ensure proper timing of testing and correct interpretation of results,” it added. 

The RT-PCR test is still the “gold-standard and the most reliable in diagnosing COVID-19,” the DOH said. 

The DOH also emphasized the importance of minimum health standards---physical distancing, frequent hand washing, proper use of masks--- as it can reduce the risk of contracting the dreaded disease. 

“We remind the public to always follow health protocols against COVID-19 regardless of the test result or the test that you took, even for RT-PCR,” the DOH said.

“Remember that you can still be exposed within the time you took the test and the result was released.  This is not just to prevent you from getting sick but also prevent you from getting others sick,” it added.