RIGHT TEST FOR THE RIGHT REASON: UPDATES ON NEW TESTING TECHNOLOGIES AND PROTOCOLS FOR COVID-19

Press Release | 3 February 2020

On the Use of Saliva as Alternative Specimen for RT-PCR Testing

The Department of Health clarifies that the use of saliva as an alternative specimen for RT-PCR testing among Philippine Red Cross (PRC) laboratories is not awaiting review of accuracy by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and has already been approved as of 21 January 2021.

However, given the novel nature of this innovative specimen collection methodology and to ensure its quality and rigor, the PRC shall conduct regular review of concordance by subjecting 1 out of every 100 saliva samples to a parallel nasopharyngeal (NP) swab for RT-PCR testing, the results of which shall be submitted to the RITM.

Meanwhile, considering the potential of this less invasive specimen collection methodology for wide scale use in the country, the RITM has been also been directed to finish its ongoing validation study of saliva testing, which upon completion shall be the basis in developing relevant guidelines and protocols for the conduct of saliva specimen testing for laboratories outside of PRC.

On 5th Day Testing for Inbound Travelers

Effective 1 February 2021, the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) has resolved to allow the entry of foreign travelers in the country provided that they shall complete the mandatory 14-day quarantine period, and shall be subjected to RT-PCR testing upon arrival and on the sixth day from date of arrival/5th day of quarantine.

On Self-Administered Test Kits

To date, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) of the Philippines has not approved any self-administered test kits. The DOH cautions the public against sellers who claim to sell  such products and strongly urges the immediate reporting of such to the FDA.

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Lastly, the Department of Health reiterates that while testing is a crucial measure to the COVID-19 response, prevention through strict adherence to the Minimum Public Health Standards remains to be the best measure against the spread of COVID-19.