Gov't eyes using antigen tests to detect COVID-19 among returning OFWs


Posted at Sep 09 2020 06:11 PM

Gov't eyes using antigen tests to detect COVID-19 among returning OFWs 1
A DFA official welcomes OFWs arriving in Manila during the COVID-19 crisis. Photo courtesy: DFA/File

MANILA - Antigen tests may soon be used to screen returning overseas Filipino workers, a government official said Wednesday as the Philippines adopts faster ways to screen individuals for the virus.

The test mode, which measures an individual's antigen or the substance that can generate the immune response against COVID-19, was earlier approved for use to screen local air travelers.

"Hindi lang para sa domestic tourism, kundi para sa ibang sitwasyon din, pati sa pag gamit sa LGUs, pati sa returning OFWs,” COVID-19 testing czar Vince Dizon told reporters.

(It's not for domestic tourism only. It can also be used by LGUs and for returning OFWs.)

Previously, the government requires real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing for all returning OFWs.

Guidelines for the use of antigen tests are expected to be released next week, said Dizon, who also serves as National Action Plan Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief Implementer.

Antigen tests are a type of diagnostic test designed for the rapid detection of coronavirus. It uses swab samples, too, but unlike the RT-PCR tests, may not detect all active infections.

“‘Pag mabilis ang labas ng resulta, mabilis tayong makakapag-trace, mabilis tayong makakapag-isolate, at maaga tayong makakapag-treat,” Dizon said.

(If the results are released fast, we can quickly trace, isolate, and treat patients.)

The government, in allowing the use of antigen tests to screen local air travelers, however emphasized that RT-PCR test remains as the "gold standard" for detecting coronavirus.

The Philippines has tested over 2.5 million people for COVID-19 since the pandemic started, according to officials.

As of Wednesday, the country has logged 245,143 confirmed coronavirus infections, of which, 55,614 are active cases.