BAGUIO CITY – The City Health Services Office (CHSO) underscored that the health department and the local government is not yet ready to undertake the mass testing of people to ascertain whether or not they are already infected with the dreaded Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19).
City Health Officer Dr. Rowena Galpo said that one of the reasons on the inability of the concerned government agencies and the local government to be able to pursue the mass testing of suspected COVID-19 carriers is the absence of sufficient test kits for the PCR machine considering that the same is the gold standard in the conduct of conclusive test for the deadly virus.
She pointed out that there are no other conclusive test results that are accepted by the health department and the World Health Organization (WHO) except for the PCR test being undertaken by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and the accredited sub-national testing laboratories in the different parts of the country.
In the case of the rapid test that will be undertaken on the persons under investigation (PUIs) who are under strict home quarantine, Galpo explained that the results that will be derived could either be false positive or false negative and what will be tested is the presence of anti-bodies of a person, thus, if the tests will render positive results, then such tests will be prioritized for confirmatory test with the PCR machine now based at the Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center (BGHMC) sub-national testing center.
On the other hand, she differentiated the operation of the PCR machine and the artificial ct scan equipment made available by the local government where the former is capable of detecting the virus while the latter could determine the extent of damage in the lungs of an individual and not the presence of the virus, thus, such test results of the cut scan machine will still be subject to confirmatory test by the established gold standard in determining COVID-19.
According to her, the accreditation of BGHMC as a sub-national testing center will facilitate the immediate release of the confirmatory test results of PUIs where the same can be done in a day or two unlike before where results that are submitted for confirmatory test results with the RITM take more than a week before being released which significantly affected the contact tracing of the close contacts of confirmed COVID-19 patients.
The City Health officer asserted that the local government and its partners are doing their best to ensure that in the remaining days of the Luzonwide enhanced community quarantine, the city will be able to maintain the momentum of having zero confirmed cases which date back to March 29, 2020 but there is a need for the residents to continue cooperating with the general rule for them to stay at home when they have nothing important to do outside their residence and for people inside and outside their homes to observe the prescribed social distancing.
Galpo asserted that whatever the gains of the Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine should be sustained even beyond the lockdown to serve as precautionary measures in preventing individuals from unnecessarily contracting the deadly virus that could compromise their health and the health of the members of their families in the future.
By Dexter A. See