GENERAL SANTOS CITY – Health personnel in Sarangani province are set to conduct rapid antibody testing for the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) to detect possible infections in its communities.
Dr. Arvin Alejandro, head of the Sarangani health office, said Monday they are currently looking at such intervention as a “community diagnostic tool” to prevent the possible spread of the deadly virus.
He said they considered such a method as alternative amid the lack of Covid-19 testing facility in the province and other parts of Region 12 or Soccsksargen.
“The antibody testing intervention is within the context of research. Antibody testing for Covid-19 is good as a community diagnostic tool and it is also a good opportunity for researches,” he said in an interview.
Although there were still questions on the accuracy of antibody testing, Alejandro believes it can help immediately determine whether persons entering the province carry the virus or not.
He said the early detection will help local health care workers implement immediate interventions on the patients and prevent them from infecting other people.
The Food and Drug Administration approved in late March the use of at least five Covid-19 rapid test kits, which uses blood samples to measure disease antibodies present but not the viral load.
The Department of Health had set guidelines on the use of the rapid tests, among them the conduct of confirmatory polymerase chain reaction or PCR-based test, which is considered as more accurate in detecting Covid-19 infection.
The official said they already acquired an initial 400 antibody tests, which reportedly cost over PHP1,000 each.
“We will prioritize the suspected Covid-19 patients who were not admitted in health facilities,” he said.
Alejandro said they are set to conduct training for health care workers who will be deployed to administer the tests.
As of Monday, Sarangani has zero cases for Covid-19 and the only province in Soccsksargen that was classified as a low-risk area.
Two suspected patients from the area are currently admitted in a hospital and 12 were listed as outpatients and undergoing strict home quarantine. (ia/PNA)