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IATF adopts protocols on rapid antigen tests' pilot use in Baguio

September 24, 2020 - Thursday 8:09 PM by PNA

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MANILA – The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF) has adopted the protocols on the pilot use of rapid antigen tests in Baguio City.

Under IATF Resolution 73, released to reporters on Thursday, rapid antigen tests may be used among contacts of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) cases in areas where there are documented clustering of cases.

It may also be used for domestic tourists and visitors with essential travel, as agreed upon by Baguio’s city government and the Department of Health (DOH), with guidance from the DOH Experts Groups.

The DOH, the Department of Tourism (DOT), and the World Health Organization (WHO) are enjoined to continue assisting Baguio City for this undertaking, the resolution said.

Antigen tests, which also use swab samples, can reveal or detect if a person is currently infected with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Earlier, the WHO recommended the use of antigen tests in case of unavailability of reverse transcription - polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests, congregate settings, or outbreaks.

“Ang antigen testing ay swab din yan pero para po siyang rapid test kits na mabilis ang resulta (Antigen testing is swab testing but it is like rapid test kits that have quick results), 10 to 15 minutes,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in an interview over PTV-4.

Roque said antigen results may still have to undergo confirmatory tests.

“Kaya nga ipa-pilot test na natin ito sa syudad Baguio na magbubukas na para sa turismo galing sa Region 1 simula ng a-bente dos ng Setyembre at titingnan po natin kung magiging accurate po ang screening sa paggamit ng antigen for tourism purposes (That’s why we are having a pilot test in the city of Baguio, which opened its doors to Region 1 [Ilocos region] tourists starting September 22. We will observe if the screening for antigen for tourism purposes would be accurate),’ he said.

Roque said if the antigen pilot tests would be a success, more areas could start to open their doors to tourism.

Baguio City has begun allowing the entry of tourists from Region 1 (La Union, Pangasinan, Ilocos Sur, and Ilocos Norte) in a bid to revive the economy.

Tourists have to pre-register using the Visitors Information and Tourist Assistance or VISITA app before being allowed entry.

Upon arrival at the borders, tourists will have to undergo tests at their own expense and wait for results.

A tourist with a negative result may proceed with his or her itinerary while a positive result will be handled by the local government. Azer Parrocha