The Philippines will now be counting positive results from rapid antigen tests on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the announcement Friday, Sept. 24 following a meeting by the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) the previous day.
“The IATF directed its Regional IATFs and Task Forces to monitor the allocation and utilization of rapid antigen tests to further improve the reporting of COVID-19 cases,” he said.
“Relative to this, the Department of Health (DOH) National Capital Region Center for Health Development is directed to facilitate registration of facilities using rapid antigen kits and to ensure that antigen line list be collected and consolidated from health facilities, temporary treatment and monitoring facilities, and their own [local government units] for submission to the DOH,” he added.
It was only a few days ago when President Duterte questioned the accuracy of COVID-19 tests being carried out by the Philippine Red Cross (PRC). He said there has been a significant number of “false positive” results coming from PRC.
Regarding the decision to count positive results from antigen tests, Roque said: “Yan po ang ating objective para maging mas mabuti po yung picture natin kung Ilan ang total cases natin (Such is our objective in order to get a better picture of what our total cases are).”
“Pero syempre, yung mga positibo, subject pa rin po yan sa confirmatory tests (But of course, those who turn out positive are still subject to confirmatory tests),” Roque clarified.
The country has recorded over 2.4 million cases of COVID-19 since last year via reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests–widely regarded as the most accurate testing method.
Confirmatory tests of antigen positive persons will likely be carried out via RT-PCR.
“In addition, augmentation of disease surveillance staff and encoders are considered to ensure that [antigen] line lists are generated and submitted on a daily basis¡” added the Palace official, who also serves as IATF spokesperson.