DOH probing if coronavirus antibody tests fueled spike in cases


Posted at Aug 05 2020 01:03 PM

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The Department of Health said Wednesday it was studying whether or not the use of antibody tests for the novel coronavirus led to a spike of COVID-19 cases in one area. 

Some companies had used antibody tests on employees returning to work, despite the warning of health experts that this type of screening can yield false negative results up to half of the time. 

“With this rise in the use of rapid antibody tests among the workplaces, we have cautioned people because… it might have led to this number of cases in the different workplaces,” said DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire. 

"We were just able to study one experience in one of our areas where there was a surge in cases and we found that the rapid antibody test was used in the community. And this is one of the things that we are studying: if it has contributed to the number of cases being reported right now in that area,” she said. 

Vergeire did not give additional details on the study. 
The DOH is boosting its information drive for companies to instead closely monitor if workers have symptoms of the disease. Those who do should be barred from coming to work and be screened using RT-PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test, she said. 

Coronavirus infections surged past the 100,000-mark this weekend, prompting health workers to appeal for a “breathing space” by tightening Metro Manila’s pandemic lockdown. 

Heeding their call, President Rodrigo Duterte placed 27 million people in the capital region and 4 surrounding provinces under the second strictest lockdown level until Aug. 18. 

ANC, Aug. 5, 2020