DOH-7 clarifies use of antigen test vs RTPCR

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche (L), chief pathologist and spokesperson of the Department of Health-7, commends Negros Oriental for putting up its own molecular diagnostic laboratory during the inauguration rites at the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital. (PIA Negros Oriental)

NEGROS ORIENTAL, Nov. 1 (PIA) -- The Department of Health (DOH-7) has clarified that the antigen test is used only to complement the molecular laboratory which uses RT-PCR biosafety level 2 test for screening COVID-19.

This was explained by DOH-7 Chief Pathologist Dr. Mary Jean Loreche in view of the mass testing of antigen by a private group in the 3rd district of Negros Oriental.

“Our stand in DOH, there are set of guidelines for antigen testing, like we are ready for confirmation to do the swab for the RT-PCR if they will test positive,” said Loreche.

The RT-PCR or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction is still the most reliable test for screening COVID-19 as it detects the viral genetic material of the disease.

Loreche said the regional office received the letter of coordination from the group a day before they conducted the testing, “and it’s quite late to respond, but I believe that they were already set to conduct the testing.”

However, whatever the results gathered, it should be shared to DOH-7 to be able to give them guidance on what to do next if ever there are positive results, Loreche said.

DOH-7 released the guidelines together with the omnibus guidelines for testing.

It is noted that the validity of the antigen test cannot be used for surveillance and monitoring unless it does not have any other testing capability.

In areas where there are no molecular labs, antigen testing can be adopted provided if the patient becomes positive, confirmatory test of RTPCR is needed, then isolate the patient at once and treat them as a positive probable confirmed case of Covid, explained Loreche.

“If negative, coming from an area with very low prevalence, then we take it as a negative result,” she added.

Dr. Socrates Villamor, provincial officer of DOH, also clarified that under the omnibus guidelines, the use of rapid antigen test is allowed for diagnostic testing of COVID-19 suspects and their close contacts especially in a community setting where RT-PCR capacity is insufficient and provided that the antigen test is certified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Villamor added that only symptomatic close contacts who turn out to be non-reactive and asymptomatic close contacts regardless of the result are recommended to undergo confirmatory RT – PCR test. (jct/PIA7 Negros Oriental)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (

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