False alarm? PBA referee returns negative result from antigen test

Published October 21, 2020, 8:01 PM

by Jeremiah Sevilla

In this October 7, 2020 photo, the PBA delegation await their turn for the swab test inside the Quest Hotel, a mandatory requirement before an individual can enter the premise and join the bubble. (Jeremiah Sevilla)

All is not lost in the PBA as the referee who was earlier reported to be a suspected Covid-19 positive case may be a case of false positive, the three parties involved in setting up the multi-million bubble said in a joint statement Wednesday night

The referee yielded a negative result from an antigen test done at the Athlete’s Village–the national quarantine facility–in New Clark City in Capas, Tarlac. 

The suspected case turned out positive in his fourth reverse transcription polymerase reaction (RT-PCR) test conducted on Monday, October 19, inside the Quest Hotel, the residence of the 350-man PBA bubble delegation.  

His three previous RT-PCR tests, including two prior to entering the bubble, produced negative results. He remains asymptomatic. 

Another RT-PCR test will be conducted to confirm the negative result of the referee’s antigen test. He will remain on a strict 14-day quarantine at the Athlete’s Village.   

All the other 27 officials tested along with the referee came out negative. The eight persons listed as his close contacts were isolated within 12 hours and will undergo another round of RT-PCR tests on Saturday, October 24.

 Antigen tests for Covid-19 are generally less sensitive than the RT-PCR, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 

As part of stricter protocols in the wake of the development, the PBA restricted unnecessary movements and gatherings of officials, players, media and all other persons inside the bubble.  

Activities such as swimming, jogging and working out in the gym inside Quest were suspended to give way to full disinfection of facilities. Suspension will be lifted on Thursday.  

“We would like to assure the public that the integrity of the bubble has not been compromised. Protocols have not been breached,” the statement reads. 

Games are underway at the Angeles University Foundation while league schedule remains the same but with more stringent measures. 

“The continued cooperation of all participants is key in ensuring that the resumption of PBA’s 45th season is safe and Covid-free.”