MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health has warned the public against using COVID-19 rapid antigen tests that can be bought online and urged them to coordinate with proper health authorities instead.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire on Monday stressed that rapid antigen tests should be administered by health professions.
“That is still not yet permitted under our regulatory process. What we are saying is rapid antigen tests should only be administered by medical professionals who are authorized in doing this,” she said partly in Filipino in a briefing.
Vergeire added that when rapid antigen test kits are used, it is important that these are administered in appropriate venues, under the guidance of healthcare professionals.
“So those who are using [rapid antigen test kits] at home and buying online, you may have problems there and you may be misguided because you may receive false result,” the DOH official said.
Vergeire instead encouraged the public to coordinate with licensed laboratories or with health authorities.
Antigen tests diagnose active COVID-19 infections with quicker turnaround period, although negative test results may need to be confirmed by an RT-PCR test.
In a House hearing on March 31, the DOH said the government is procuring 500,000 antigen test kits. Officials said in the hearing that including antigen test results from NCR Plus is part of government's response to contain the surge in infections.
The government has also placed Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna, Rizal, Quirino, Abra and City of Santiago in Isabela under modified enhanced community quarantine status until the end of April.
While it was not done before, the DOH said the move is allowed in areas where there is an outbreak or a rise in cases. Local governments can also use these kits in their house-to-house visits under a "risk-based" screening.
Vergeire said then that antigen tests will be used for those with symptoms of COVID-19, as well as those exposed to positive individuals and contacts of identified patients.
COVID-19 cases in the country hit 876,225 on Monday, with 11,378 new infections logged on April 12 alone. Of these, 157,451 are classified as active cases, while the fatality count crossed the 15,000th mark at 15,149. — Kristine Joy Patag
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