ZAMBALES, Philippines — Antibody rapid testing kits for the coronavirus arrived in Zambales on Wednesday, April 8, and the medical frontliners will be the first to undergo the tests, said Governor Hermogenes Ebdane, Jr.
The provincial government through Ebdane purchased the SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Rapid Testing Kits but it was unclear how many units, for much, and from whom the kits were bought.
Aside from the rapid testing kits, multivitamins were also procured for the frontliners and “high risk” patients under investigation (PUIs), said the Provincial Health Office (PHO).
“These rapid test kits will allow us to immediately determine the health status of our health workers so they can better serve their patients,” the PHO said.
Vulnerable PUIs that include senior citizens with diabetes, cancer, high blood pressure, and heart and lung ailments can also use the rapid test kits.
The PHO said that medical technologists are being trained to use the rapid test kits before they are sent to the hospitals.
Rapid testing will be done at the President Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital, San Marcelino District Hospital, Candelaria District Hospital, Ospital ng Sta. Cruz, and Kainomayan Primary Hospital.
The PHO said that they will also subject to rapid testing frontliners from the rural health units, the Philippine National Police (PNP), the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), and the Barangay Health Emergency Response Teams (BHERT), and others.
“Rest assured that the other supplies that will arrive will reach those who need it,” the PHO said.
On Wednesday night, the PHO said on its Facebook COVID-19 update that 2 patients have already tested positive using the rapid antibody test.
It was not clear if the 14 cases it said were waiting for their test results also used the antibody rapid test.
The update said that 17 patients have been discharged after testing negative in their COVID-19 confirmatory tests.
The PHO also said that there are 7 coronavirus cases in Zambales, but a check with the COVID-19 map on its Facebook page shows 11 cases:
- Cabangan- 1
- San Felipe- 2
- San Antonio- 1
- Castillejos- 2 (with one death)
- Olongapo City– 4
- San Marcelino– 1
In March, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved 5 antibody test kits for COVID-19, which yield faster results than the traditional polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-based test kits.
While these rapid test kits are being used in other countries, FDA Director-General Eric Domingo gave a reminder that these are used with caution because “they measure antibodies and not the viral load itself.”
Because the body takes time to develop antibodies, Domingo said that rapid test kits “might give a negative result for patients who have been infected but [their] bodies have not yet developed antibodies.”
(READ: U.P.-developed coronavirus test kits ready for mass use beginning April 4)
PCR-based test kits use actual swabs from patients and determine the actual presence of the coronavirus.
Zambales has a total of 296 patients under investigation (PUIs): 16 are confined in hospitals; 71 are in home quarantine; 200 have completed their quarantine; and 6 died but tested negative for the coronavirus.
A total of 14,196 persons under monitoring (PUMs) were reported, 1,714 of whom are still undergoing the mandatory 14-day quarantine.
The PHO said on Wednesday night that 3 PUIs and 1 PUM tested negative for the coronavirus.
Nationwide, the Department of Health (DOH) said that there were 3,870 coronavirus cases as of Wednesday afternoon with 182 fatalities and 96 recoveries. – Rappler.com
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