The Department of Health (DOH) has been directed to finalize guidelines for the supplementary use of rapid antibody test kits approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), the Inter-agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases reported.
In his Thursday briefing, Cabinet Secretary and IATF spokesman Karlo Nograles said the DOH, together with its technical advisory group), was told to finalize the said guidelines pursuant to the directive of President Duterte.
President Duterte on Monday ordered the purchase of rapid test kits to increase the country’s testing capacity for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) despite the lack of guidelines on the use of the said kits.
“I’m clearing the way, I will ask [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque to talk to the people in charge and they can proceed to buy it immediately. As fast as you can really do the procurement at this time,” he said.
“You can go ahead and buy it immediately, you have my clearance,” he added.
Malacañang confirmed Wednesday that those seeking an audience with President Duterte in the Palace are required to undergo a rapid test. They will not be allowed to enter Malacañang if they test positive for the disease.
The chief implementer of the country’s action plan against COVID-19, Secretary Carlito Galvez, Jr. earlier said that the government will still purchase at least 900,000 more polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based tests to confirm the validity of results gained from the use of rapid test kits.
The DOH earlier thumbed down the use of rapid test kits, saying these were not accurate enough to check for COVID-19 as these can produce false results.
To date, the DOH reported 5,453 confirmed COVID-19 cases, 349 of whom died while 353 recovered.
Presently, the country has 16 laboratories certified by the DOH to conduct real-time RT-PCR for COVID-19.
Meanwhile, Nograles said the IATF has adopted an updated nomenclature in classifying individuals for the surveillance and management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Patients under Investigation (PUI) with mild, severe, or critical symptoms whose results have not yet been released shall be designated as ‘suspect’ cases. PUI with inconclusive test results shall be classified as ‘probable’ cases.
Persons under Monitoring (PUM), on the other hand, shall still be referred to as PUM, and shall still be reported and managed accordingly.
By Argyll Cyrus Geducos (Manila Bulletin)