'False positive?': Lab details needed on PBA player, referee cases

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 26 2020 05:34 PM | Updated as of Oct 26 2020 05:43 PM

Guests undergo assessment at the triage during their arrival at Quest Hotel in Clark, Pampanga on September 29, 2020 for the duration of the All-Filipino beginning October 11. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health on Monday said it cannot say if a player and a referee of the Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) in Clark had false positive results for COVID-19 unless their experts see the details from their laboratory tests.

“We cannot give appropriate conclusions for this time, because we have not seen the details and the official details of the laboratory. Like, we were requesting for Ct (cycle threshold) values and all para mapag-aralan namin kung talagang false positive ba yan o hindi (so we can study if it is really a false positive or not),” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said in a virtual briefing.

On Monday, the PBA announced that the Blackwater player who tested positive for COVID-19 using a PCR test on Sunday, tested negative afterwards. The player took an antigen test and another PCR test that both yielded negative results.

The same happened to a referee staying in the PBA bubble.

This led the PBA to say that the player was a false positive case.

But Vergeire said such classification should first be studied and go through a process.

“Hindi lang po natin basta sasabihin na false positive o false negative. Kailangan mapag-aralan muna lahat ng detalye ng sitwasyon bago tayo makapag-declare if it’s really false positive or false negative,” she said.

(We cannot just say that it’s a false positive or false negative. All details should be closely studied before we can declare if it’s really false positive or false negative.)

While the PCR test is the gold standard for COVID-19 testing, antigen tests, which are less accurate are also used for some situations.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has advised against the use of antigen tests for border screening. In its guidelines, the DOH also said antigen testing can be used if PCR testing is not available, or if a faster test is needed.

Vergeire explained that antigen tests are more accurate when they are used on people who have symptoms of the disease.

“Maaari nag-negative sila sa antigen, they did not exhibit symptoms and maaari hindi sila infectious,” she said.

(They might have tested negative using antigen because they did not exhibit symptoms and they are not infectious.)

The Philippines' COVID-19 cases surpassed the 371,000-mark on Monday, of which, 36,333 are active infections.