Antigen pilot test doing well in Baguio

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BAGUIO CITY– The city will be using antigen as one of the choices of tests that can be done on individuals wanting to visit or stay in the country’s undisputed Summer Capital  following the promising results of the pilot test being undertaken by health experts on the efficacy of the aforesaid test.

Mayor Benjamin B. Magalong said initial results of the ongoing antigen pilot test is reportedly doing well thus the city is completing the required 1,500 antigen tests before submitting the results to the pool of health experts to guide them in crafting the guidelines on the use of the antigen for border control and triaging.

While the pilot test is still underway, the mayor claimed that the city government will be using the antigen as one of the options for people wanting to enter the city as mandatory testing will be rolled out in the coming days.

Aside from the antigen test, individuals mandated to be tested in the centralized triage center could opt for the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test or the pooled test, whichever is affordable to them.

For those who cannot afford the required tests but want to enter the city for important transactions, the city chief executive advised they could opt to undergo the 14-day mandatory quarantine in their homes or accommodation facilities under the close supervision of the members of the barangay health emergency response teams (BHERTs) before being allowed to transact their desired businesses in the government and private offices.

Earlier, a pool of private and public health experts identified Baguio City for the conduct of the pilot test for antigen pursuant to Resolution No. 73 of the inter-agency task force on emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases (IATF) to ascertain the efficacy of the antigen that could include it in the omnibus guidelines for testing of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

Based on initial results, antigen test results could be made available in 15 to 30 minutes compared to the RT-PCR test result that is available in 2 to 3 days.

Further, Magalong said the results of pooled tests will be available in 24 hours based on the initial tests conducted by other local governments.

The mayor also tasked City Budget Officer Leticia O. Clemente and City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo to closely coordinate with the Tourism Promotions Board (TPB) to work out the funding requirement for the ongoing antigen pilot test as committed to him by Tourism Secretary Bernadette Romulo Puyat during her recent visit to the city last week.

The World Health Organization (WHO) also included antigen in its emergency use list, the only antigen test kit included in the elite list while the other kits are RT-PCR test kits available in the different parts of the world.

The city mayor expressed optimism the health experts can finalize the guidelines for the use of the antigen test kit once the city submits the gathered data from the ongoing pilot test to provide choices to people wanting to travel across borders so as not to unduly delay their transactions and movements in the country. By Dexter A. See