Repeat tests not required for recovered COVID-19 patients

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A suspected, probable, or confirmed case of COVID-19 will no longer have to go through a repeat test in order to be considered “recovered”, the Department of Health (DOH) said Thursday.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the new development was among the changes cited in Department Order 2020-0258 or the Updated Interim Guidelines on Expanded Testing for COVID-19 recently signed by Health Secretary Francisco Duque III.

“Ibig sabihin po, hindi na po natin kailangang i-test ulit ang isang suspect, probable, or confirmed case para ma-tag siya as ‘recovered’ o para siya ay makauwi na galing sa ospital o sa quarantine facility,” Vergeire explained.

“Kailangan lang ng medical assessment ng kaniyang doktor na siya ay wala nang sintomas three days already [or more] at nakakumpleto na po ang 14 days isolation, and then kapag ganito, puwede na po natin siyang i-tag as ‘recovered,’” she added.

The DOH last April explained that remnants of the coronavirus may be to blame after two recovered COVID-19 patients tested positive for the illness anew.

The DOH has also expanded testing guidelines to include more subgroups.

The testing guidelines now cover Subgroup E, which refers to frontline workers such as quarantine facility staff, barangay health emergency response teams, staff of the Bureau of Corrections and Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, and social workers.

Subgroup F covers other members of the vulnerable population such as persons deprived of liberty, immunocompromised individuals, and those with conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, lung illnesses, and cancer, among others.

Vergeire clarified that inclusion in a certain subgroup does not automatically mean eligibility for polymerase chain reaction-based testing.

“Mayroon pa rin po tayong requirement na kahit kasama ka sa subgroup ay kailangan meron ka pa ring close contact sa probable o kumpirmadong kaso ng COVID-19 bago ka sumailalim sa testing,” she said.

“Ibig sabihin, mayroong harapang pakikisalamuha sa isang kumpirmadong kaso sa loob ng isang metro nang higit pa sa 15 minutes, direktang pisikal na contact kasama ang kumpirmadong kaso at direktang pag-aalaga sa isang probable o confirmed case nang walang gamit na angkop na personal protective equipment,” Vergeire added.

The Philippines has reported 24,175 COVID-19 cases with 1,036 deaths as of Thursday afternoon.

Total recoveries also rose to 5,165 after a record-high 270 more patients recovered from the respiratory disease./Stacy Ang

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