People with coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) symptoms who live in areas under modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) status will undergo swab test instead of a rapid test, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire announced Wednesday.

She explained that this is one of the 10-point results that the government has prepared for MECQ areas, such as Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal.

The targets are as follows:

  • non-usage of rapid testing kits
  • 100% of households undergoing symptom check
  • isolating COVID-19 patients non-compliant with home quarantine protocol
  • tracing 37 individuals who have been in contact per one COVID-19 patient
  • high awareness and compliance with minimum health standards such as wearing of face mask and face shield and observance of physical distancing
  • 100% requiring admission/isolation referred
  • 100% of admitted patients have zero out of pocket hospital fee
  • 100% of clusters identified, contained and isolated
  • no stigmatization of COVID-19 patients in the community

The Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) or swab test is expected to show a more accurate result than a rapid test.

Meanwhile, Dr. Antonio Dans of the Philippine Society of General Internal Medicine supports the effort and said that rapid tests only gives false security to the population and adds to the rising cases of Covid-19.

“Iyong rapid test, hindi naman niya nakikita ang virus kasi ang nakikita niyan, antibodies. Ang nangyayari, iyong mga nag-negative sa rapid test, sila yung kumakalat sa lipunan. Eh ganoon lumalaganap ang Covid-19 kasi nga, ‘negative’ sila,” Dans said in an online forum.

“Iyong paggamit ng rapid test sa workplace, naging problema at nakadagdag sa paglaganap ng Covid-19,” he added. RJ Espartinez