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Protocols for COVID-19 testing may change when more test kits are available; more test kits arriving

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By Genalyn Kabiling 

The government may amend the protocols for coronavirus testing once additional supplies of diagnostic items become available, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles said Wednesday night.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (Photo from Karlo Nograles  / Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles (Photo from Karlo Nograles / Facebook page / File Photo / MANILA BULLETIN)

Nograles said a “considerable number” of coronavirus test kits will soon be supplied to the country to enhance the public health system’s ability to respond to the coronavirus outbreak.

“Ang alam ko kasi the protocol is ang te-test natin are those persons symptomatic, ‘yung persons under monitoring, ‘yung under investigation. May sistema o protocol ‘yung DOH (The protocol is we test those persons symptomatic or persons under monitoring or under investigation. The DOH [Department of Health]has a system or protocol),” he said in a Palace press briefing Wednesday night when asked if health workers will be prioritized in the coronavirus testing.

“With the arrival of new kits either purchased or donated, then there is a chance that the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) may change the protocols or update the protocols,” he added.

The Palace official made the statement amid calls for widespread community testing for the new coronavirus disease that has already infected 202 people in the country. Some politicians have been criticized for taking the coronavirus test despite showing no symptoms of the disease.

At present, Nograles said the health department has around 1,000 test kits for patients who show symptoms of coronavirus disease. He said it was up to the health authorities to determine the “best procedure” to diagnose people with the virus.

He assured the public that more coronavirus test kits are forthcoming, but declined to give the figure.

“Right now, according to the DOH, we have a thousand plus. We have coming testing kits that are being donated, both donated and purchased by DOH,” he said. “It’s a considerable number but I cannot disclose the amount unless I am given clearance by the task force,” he added.

He told the public that the coronavirus test kits are not similar to pregnancy kits that show results in a few minutes. He noted that samples must go through laboratory tests by certain hospitals.

“They have equipping five sub-national facilities to use the testing kits. RITM (Research Institute for Tropical Medicine) must do another confirmatory test. There’s a whole process to that,” he said.

“We will leave to the DOH to determine the best procedure with all of those testing kits to come,”

Four more hospitals are expected to start testing for COVID-19 soon, according to health department. These are the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City, Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Benguet, and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.

The RITM has so far been the main facility conducting the coronavirus testing since the outbreak of the disease in the country.

READ MORE: Entire Luzon under quarantine

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