Covid-19 antigen tests to be used in evacuation centers

Health, National, News

The government will use antigen tests to screen families displaced by typhoons for Covid-19.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a Tuesday press briefing in Alcala, Cagayan the government has anticipated the need to conduct testing in evacuation centers even before the OCTA Research Group suggested testing to ensure Covid-19 is not transmitted among evacuees.

Roque said the antigen test is faster and can cover more individuals. He acknowledged the need to conduct testing to curb the spread of the highly infectious disease, even if physical distancing is observed in evacuation centers

It only takes 15 to 30 minutes to show results, compared to the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test, which takes days.

He noted, however, that “sometimes, staying close to each other cannot be avoided due to the large number of evacuees,” adding that not all evacuees may be able to avail of the free antigen testing as only those who show signs and symptoms would be prioritized.

Roque also assured that evacuees who show signs and symptoms of Covid-19 would immediately be transferred to separate facilities for quarantine. Antigen tests, which  use swab samples, can reveal or detect if a person is infected with the Covid virus.

The World Health Organization has recommended the use of antigen tests in case of the unavailability of RT-PCR tests, congregate settings or outbreaks.

Earlier, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the transmission of Covid-19 in evacuation centers was a “very strong possibility.” He advised local government units to observe minimum health standards to avoid the spread of the virus among the evacuees.

On Tuesday, health authorities logged 1,148 new confirmed cases, increasing the country’s tally to 410,718 since March. Of the total, 374,543 have recovered, while 7,862 have died.

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