DOH-7 to conduct community testing on COVID-19 soon
CEBU, April 14 (PIA) — The Department of Health (DOH) in Central Visayas will soon conduct local community testing on COVID-19 for eligible individuals to get the real picture on the ground, as the region reports 38 positive COVID-19 cases as of yesterday, April 13, 2020, with eight recorded fatalities and 22 persons recovered.
DOH-7 Regional Director Dr. Jaime Bernadas said community testing has not started yet due to the technical hitches such as the reagents needed to do the laboratory procedure.
“Maybe in three days time or on Wednesday, we can do the community testing,” said Bernadas, chairperson of the Inter-Agency Task Group for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases – Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (IATG-MEID-RDRRMC) 7.
The DOH-7 chief said “our objective is containment, containment, and containment” to curb the spread of the virus, adding that containment should never be compromised.
Bernadas said they are also exploring the donation of test kits in their possession for possible use in the massive community testing.
DOH-7 said it still preferred the use of manual testing using the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) kits rather than the rapid diagnostic test (RDT).
Manual testing is much better than the automated procedure, which should only be resorted to for severe cases, said Bernadas.
He said the community testing will be done manually at an average of 24 to 30 tests per day.
Dr. Van Philip Baton, medical program coordinator for infectious diseases of DOH-7, said the community-based swabbing does not mean that all will be tested for COVID-19.
“It is a misnomer that everyone will be tested for swabbing,” said Baton, clarifying that only high-risk individuals and those individuals in the first line of exposure to COVID-19 positive cases will be subjected to the test.
High-risk individuals include healthcare workers, pregnant women, those exposed to COVID-19 positive cases who are usually immediate family members, those exhibiting influenza like illness with no co-morbidities but with history of exposure, and those experiencing severe acute respiratory illness with or without co-morbidities and with or without history of exposure.
According to the DOH-7, individuals who have been exposed to suspected cases even for just 15 minutes within 14 days of quarantine should be subjected to swabbing.
Results of the swab test will be out by 24 hours as the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City has been certified by the DOH as one of the sub-national laboratories for COVID-19 testing in the country. (fcr/pia7)