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Test better

The Department of Health says the reporting of positive results of self-administered COVID-19 antigen tests is mandatory. Those who test positive must inform the barangay or health-care provider which will report cases within 24 hours to the local government.

Local governments and telemedicine providers accredited by the DOH must put in place their own reporting system to facilitate the necessary local COVID-19 response upon detection of a positive case through self-testing, the health department added.

The DOH stressed self-administered antigen testing is recommended only for symptomatic individuals within seven days from the onset of symptoms. The Food and Drug Administration had earlier approved two brands.

In addition, the DOH also emphasized that used self-administered test kits are considered infectious waste and must be separated from other wastes and have a dedicated area during handling and collection.

Furthermore, all manufacturers have been required to provide instructional materials for proper use, including a step-by-step video guide for easy reference.

Self-administered antigen testing can be an important tool in the fight to control COVID-19, especially the current surge powered by the more infectious Omicron variant. However, without established guidelines for proper use, reporting and disposal; its effectiveness to the community effort will be marginal. Our COVID response could be better if the country had been blessed with a DOH that is more proactive in establishing systems for critical areas like testing and contact tracing.

Making the option of self-administered antigen testing available to the public is long overdue. Now that it is available, the system has to be in place to allow it to be useful for local government units and the country’s epidemiologists who will need all the information they can get on infections if they are to craft a better COVID response for this country.*

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