Antigen test use still conditional, says health dept

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 07 2020 10:20 AM

Antigen test use still conditional, says health dept 1
Healthcare workers wait at an outdoor drive-through antigen testing facility in Cubao Quezon City on November 10, 2020. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - Antigen coronavirus tests cannot be used for asymptomatic patients among other conditions, the Department of Health said Monday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque said antigen tests can only be used for those with COVID-19 symptoms, those exposed to a confirmed virus case, has a history of travel in areas with a high caseload of coronavirus, places with difficult access to RT-PCR testing, or there is an impending outbreak in the community.

"Di pa rin natin pwede gamitin ito (We still cannot use this) for non-symptomatics or outside of those conditions I have enumerated," he told ANC's Headstart.

The DOH earlier said Baguio City last month finished its pilot study of antigen testing to aid in reviving its economy.

Antigen tests reportedly yield results faster but are not as accurate as RT-PCR, the gold standard of coronavirus tests.

RT-PCR test is currently priced at P4,500 to P5,000 in private laboratories and P3,800 in state-run facilities, Duque said. Filipinos may avail of the PhilHealth benefit to reduce the test's cost to P700, he added.

Government originally wanted to use antigen tests for screening in airports but the World Health Organization later issued guidelines that said it was not appropriate for border screening.

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