DOH Explains COVID-Testing Protocol;
Recommends quarantine while waiting for swab test result
The Department of Health (DOH) said that assessment by a licensed health professional remains a prerequisite before one could get tested for COVID-19.
“Those who think they are infected will still need to be assessed by a health professional,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained in a recent virtual presser.
Vergeire also stressed that those most at risk for COVID-19 will be prioritized for the expanded testing as prescribed by DOH Department Memorandum 2020-0151, and reiterated by Department Circular No. 2020-0179. She was referring to these two priority sub-groups of: (1) patients or healthcare workers with severe or critical symptoms and history of travel or exposure, and (2) patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, relevant history of travel or exposure, and considered vulnerable (e.g. 60 years old or older, has other illnesses such as hypertension and diabetes, or is immunocompromised).
Patients or healthcare workers who are not considered vulnerable but with mild symptoms and relevant history of travel or exposure, and those with no symptoms but have relevant history of travel or exposure will also be tested under the expanded testing scheme.
While sub-groups 1 and 2 are given priority, anyone who requests to get tested must be assessed by a licensed health professional who shall determine whether they fall into any of these prioritized groups and whether he should get tested immediately.
Upon assessment, the patient will be instructed to proceed to the most accessible health facility for testing. Otherwise, they will be advised to undergo quarantine.
“We want to avoid people crowding and lining up in our testing centers to demand for tests even if they do not experience any symptom,” Usec Vergeire explained, adding that if this happens, it might result to increased cases of transmission.
The DOH also recommends calling 24/7 Telemedicine Hotlines for those who wish to consult health professionals from their homes. Metro Manila residents may call 02-8424-1724 or 02-7798-8000. Those outside of Metro Manila may use 1555 (for all networks) and the (02) 894-COVID hotline to seek medical advice.
QURANTINE AFTER SWAB
Meanwhile, individuals subjected to confirmatory RT-PCR test are advised to have themselves quarantined while waiting for the result.
Dr. Renilyn Reyes, head of the public health programs development cluster of the Department of Health Western Visayas Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD6), said on Thursday the regional health office “highly recommends” the quarantine because persons subjected to swab test or confirmatory testing are considered “high risk”.
“Once subjected to confirmatory RTPCR for Covid-19 (coronavirus disease), it is recommended by the regional health office to undergo quarantine, decrease mobility because we have no idea of the pending result of the RT-PCR,” she said.
She added that the implication is that if they will not undergo quarantine and the result is positive, then the contact tracing will further “branch out”.
Good if the result is negative, Reyes said.*