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DOH: Time-based approach now used in COVID-19 handling

CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY (PIA)—Emphasizing that reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing should not be the sole basis in handling returning individuals, the Department of Health (DOH) said they are currently using the time-based approach for COVID-19 cases.

During the daily Laging Handa Network Briefing, August 5, Usec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said, “Hindi dapat basehan ang test para makauwi ang tao. Ang isang tao ‘pag nagkaroon ng COVID, on the tenth day of his illness, hindi na siya infectious.”

(The test should not be the basis for an individual to be allowed to go home. On the tenth day of his illness, a person who is infected with COVID will no longer be infectious)

The undersecretary also added that there is no need to repeat testing as the RT-PCR machine is very sensitive. “It can detect the remnants of a virus.”

Based on evidence, the World Health Organization stated that it is safe to release patients from isolation based on clinical criteria that require a minimum time in isolation of 13 days, rather than strictly dwelling on repeated PCR results.

As for the duration of RT-PCR testing, Vergeire said such depends on the laboratory. It usually takes 48-72 hours to obtain results. 

Noting various concerns on the amount of testing, Vergeire said, “Ang RT-PCR test ay covered ng (The RT-PCR test is covered by) PhilHealth package. All Filipinos are automatic members of PhilHealth. Hindi po sila dapat magbabayad ng (They should not pay for the) total amount because PhilHealth should pay for that.” 

For PhilHealth’s benefit package for COVID-19 testing, P3,409 is provided for all services for testing, which are procured and provided by the testing laboratory; P2,077 if test kits are donated to the testing laboratory; and P901 if test kits are donated to the testing laboratory. 

As of August 4, there are 616 confirmed COVID-19 cases in Region 10 of which 7 are still admitted, 227 are outpatients, 301 have recovered, and 1 have expired. The 10 new confirmed cases recorded are from Misamis Oriental (3), Bukidnon (3), and Cagayan de Oro City (4). (RTP/PIA10)

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