PH Red Cross logs higher positivity rate in COVID-19 tests

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 07 2021 11:23 AM | Updated as of Mar 07 2021 11:40 AM

Baguio residents undergo COVID-19 Saliva RT-PCR tests offered by the Philippine Red Cross at the Melvin Jones Grandstand on February 23, 2021. Jong Gasmena, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippine Red Cross has recorded a higher COVID-19 positivity rate in its confirmatory tests since February, an official of the organization said Sunday.

The PRC conducts RT-PCR tests on returning overseas Filipinos and saliva tests.

"Since February 11, tumataas po ang positivity rate natin sa ating laboratory. Nung January and December, umaabot lang tayo ng 2-4 percent. Ngayon po, inaabot na tayo ng 7-11 percent positivity rate sa laboratory po natin," Dr. Paulyn Ubial, head of the PRC's molecular laboratories, told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

(Since February 11, our laboratories found an increase in the positivity rate. In December and January, we only had 2-4 percent. Now, it ranges from 7 to 11 percent.)

The World Health Organization recommends a positivity rate of 5.0 percent or lower for at least 14 days before governments consider reopening.

Ubial said the PRC has sent "more than 400 samples" to the Philippine Genome Center (PGC) for sequencing.

The PGC has so far found 14 COVID-19 variants in the 3,044 samples it tested, according to Ubial. Only the UK and South African variants raise concern, she added.

Biosurveillance is "important" and the "key" in preventing further virus spread, according to Noel Bernardo, coordinator of PRC's clinical services.

"Kung alam natin ang mga datos na ito, mate-tailor natin ang ating response in terms of public health policies and how we manage these diseases," he said.

(If we know these data, we can tailor our response of public health policies and how we manage these diseases.)

The saliva test is "as accurate" as the gold standard RT-PCR test, Ubial said. It has a sensitivity rate of 90 percent and 99.31 percent accuracy, she added.

The Philippines has logged a total of 591,138 COVID-19 cases, as of Saturday, including 43,323 active infections.

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