IATF issues new guidelines on testing, tracing, isolation

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The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) on Tuesday announced the adoption of new guidelines for “proper clinical assessment” that will serve as the basis for quarantine, isolation, testing, discharge, travel and return-to-work decisions during the period of the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic. 

(JANSEN ROMERO / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Called Interim Omnibus Guidelines on Surveillance, Case Finding, Contact Tracing, Quarantine or Isolation, and Testing for COVID-19, the IATF said part of the general principles of the measure is proper clinical assessment anchored on two main factors – symptoms and exposure. 

Availability of the test, the best time to use the test, turn-around-time of test results, and test specificity and sensitivity are the factors to be considered in determining the right test, according to the IATF.  

Furthermore, IATF members are now allowing the use of the antigen test as a substitute for RT-PCR 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 subject to the protocols of the local government unit.    

An antigen test detects the presence of viral proteins in a biological sample, such as saliva or tissue swabbed from the nasal cavity. It is typically cheap, returns results in minutes, and, like the genetic tests, reveal an active infection. 

However, the IATF said RT-PCR Test still remains the gold standard for confirmatory testing.