Guidelines on use of antigen test amid Omicron threat stay

There will be no changes in the guidelines on the use of antigen tests amid the threat of the highly contagious Omicron coronavirus variant, a health official said Thursday.

“Since the beginning, we have always emphasized the benefits and limitations of antigen test,” Department of Health – Health Promotion Bureau Director Dr. Beverly Ho said in a Viber message to reporters.

Ho was reacting to the public’s concern on the reliability of antigen test results after the United States Food and Drug Administration said rapid antigen tests have reduced sensitivity in detecting the Omicron variant.

Earlier, the DOH noted that antigen tests are best used among individuals who are symptomatic or high risk of exposure to Covid-19 cases.

“Meaning, when you test positive you likely have it. However, as previously noted, testing negative does not completely mean you are free from Covid-19, regardless [of] what variant it is,” Ho said.

With this, the DOH has advised the conduct of the RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) test to supplement the result of an antigen test as part of the entire system of interventions in preventing the spread of Covid-19.

“As of this time, there is no reason to change our guidelines on the use of antigen tests as these have been crafted with the previously stated context in mind,” Ho added.

So far, the country has four confirmed cases of Omicron variant, mostly returning overseas Filipinos.

Three of these cases were already recovered while the fourth case is still undergoing home quarantine as of this time.

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