January 29, 2023

The City Health Services Office will not employ antigen tests in the detection of individuals with Covid-19 virus, until the Department of Health gives them the green light.
In the session of the city council Monday, Councilor Betty Lourdes Tabanda has suggested to City Health Officer Rowena Galpo to use antigen tests, which can give faster results and can facilitate immediate isolation of Covid-19 positive individuals.
Compared to the RT-PCR test where results can only be obtained in 48 hours, Tabanda said antigen test results can be released in 30 minutes and its accuracy is also reliable.
Tabanda said the longer it takes for the for the test results to come out, the higher the chances of transmitting the virus. She said many of those who are supposed to be in quarantine while waiting for their results do not actually follow the minimum health protocols, resulting in the spread of the virus inside the homes.
Galpo said RT-PCR test remains the gold standard in detecting the presence of viral RNA. She said the medical community is not discounting the detection capacity of antigen tests but the CHSO has to wait for the DOH to issue omnibus guidelines on the use of antigen.
In a Facebook post, molecular biologist Edsel Maurice Salvana said compared to the RT-PCR test, which can detect the virus even in asymptomatic individuals, antigen tests are only able to detect those with a “high viral load,” or those who are symptomatic.
In a presscon on Aug. 25, Asst. City Health Officer Celia Flor Brillantes said antigen tests only detect the probability of having the virus. Individuals who are positive using the antigen test would still have to undergo confirmatory test using RT-PCR.
“Antigens only detect the probability although it is quite better than the rapid diagnostic test, which only detects antibodies,” Brillantes said.
Tabanda also suggested to the CHSO to negotiate with the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center management to fast-track the release of results.
Galpo said the “delay” is due to factors beyond the control of the CHSO or the BGHMC such as testing of samples from other provinces in the Cordillera, regions 1 and 2 and the need to also give machines to rest.
She assured that individuals who are required to be on home quarantine are those whose homes have adequate ventilation, have a separate kitchen, bedroom, toilet, and are regularly visited by the Barangay Health Emergency Response Team. Those who do not have enough space at home are required to stay at the Sto. Niño isolation facility.
The CHSO has recently recorded clustering of cases at homes and some workplaces.
To stem the transmission of the virus, the CHSO constantly reminds the public to avoid crowded places, limit movement to essential errands only, and practice minimum health standards even when indoors. – Rimaliza A. Opiña