Bohol OKs saliva RT-PCR test for tourists, Apor

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THE Province of Bohol has allowed the use of saliva reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test for those who wish to visit the province’s tourism bubble and as a requirement for Authorized Persons Outside of Residence (Apor).

Bohol Gov. Arthur Yap issued on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021 Executive Order (EO) no. 9 series of 2021, which amended EO 53 series of 2020 that provided guidelines for the implementation of the Bohol Tourist Bubble and EO 54 series of 2020 on simplified and unified guidelines for sea and air travel to Bohol for locally stranded individuals, returning overseas Filipinos and Apor.

EO no. 9 also allows saliva RT-PCR test for tourists who will come to Bohol for meetings, incentives, conventions and exhibitions (Mice) and other events.

Yap, however, said they only amended the EO to also accept results of tests conducted through saliva RT-PCR, in addition to the traditional nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) tests for tourists and Apor who come to Bohol.

He said as of now, there is no laboratory in Bohol that conducts saliva PCR testing since only the Philippine Red Cross is allowed by the Department of Health (DOH) to initially perform this mode of Covid-19 test.

“For those going out of Bohol, saliva testing is not yet available since Philippine Red Cross does not have a PCR laboratory in Bohol,” he told SunStar Cebu in a text message on Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021.

Dr. Mary Jean Loreche, DOH 7 spokesperson, said they are still waiting for the guidelines on saliva testing as an acceptable test modality.

She said however, this mode of testing is showing promise in terms of speed of results, ease in sample collection, protection of healthcare workers and the minimized need for personal protective equipment.

“More importantly, according to the studies in countries using this method, it is expected to have a very good accuracy comparable with RT-PCR,” she said.

She said in Central Visayas, all the molecular laboratories for Covid-19 testing are still using the standard oropharyngeal and NPS samples for testing.

She said once guidelines are out, they can also prepare the laboratories in the region to conduct testing using saliva samples.

She said there are two types of saliva testing: the lateral flow (rapid and will not require a PCR machine) which is cheaper, and the real-time PCR similar to the current setup.

“For the PCR testing using saliva, since there is a step in the molecular testing that is bypassed, it makes the testing results to be out in a matter of three hours or less,” she said. (WBS)