PRESIDENTIAL Adviser for Entrepreneurship and Go Negosyo Founder Joey Concepcion announced that Cebu City Mayor Edgar Labella has signed a deal to roll out Go Negosyo’s pooled polymerase chain reaction (PCR) Covid-19 tests.
The pooled testing will be initially conducted on 4,000 Cebu City market vendors.
"It is really to basically help save our micro and small and medium-sized entrepreneurs who are in great trouble at this point in time," Concepcion said during the virtual launch on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2020.
The pooled PCR testing is expected to bring down the cost of swab tests, optimize the availability of test kits, and reduce the workload of laboratory staff.
It will also provide LGUs and businesses with a better and clearer direction while restoring confidence in returning to work, Concepcion said.
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defined pool testing as a means of conducting one laboratory test on a combined pool of samples to detect SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19.
Pooling allows laboratories to test more samples with fewer testing materials and could be useful in scenarios like returning groups of workers to a workplace, CDC said.
If a pooled test result is negative, then all the samples can be presumed negative with the single test. In other words, all the people who provided samples can be assumed to test negative for the SARS-CoV-2 infection.
If the pooled test result is positive, each of the samples in the pool would need to be tested individually to determine which samples are positive.
Pooling should be used only in areas or situations where the number of positive test results is expected to be low—for example in areas with a low prevalence of SARS-CoV-2 infections, CDC added.
The BDO Foundation and GoNegosyo will fund equipment, swabs and test kits and the University of Cebu Medical Center and Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center will pilot the pooled testing via pools of five persons.
The Philippine Society of Pathologists and GoNegosyo team will then evaluate the increasing pools.
Labella and Presidential Assistant for the Visayas Michael Dino will facilitate the immediate isolation of positives while swabbing centers will be provided by the Department of Health (DOH) 7 and the City of Cebu.
After testing positive, the individuals will be isolated, given hygiene kits and basic necessities. Contact tracing will then be commenced," Labella said.
Labella said the identification of sectors to be subjected to the testing was done in consultation with DOH doctors and the Emergency Operation Center.
Aside from market vendors, taxi drivers, other public transport drivers, and food delivery couriers will be targeted for testing, Labella said.
Meanwhile, the DOH stressed that rapid antibody-based tests are not recommended as stand-alone tests for diagnosis of Covid-19.
The DOH maintained that reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) remains the gold standard for confirmatory test of Covid-19.
In its official FB page on Wednesday, Aug. 19, 2020, the DOH said the use of rapid antibody tests is not recommended for use in screening, return-to-work decisions, entry-to-country/province policies, or for similar use “due to its low sensitive and high false negative rates, as well as uncertainties to its connection to immunity.” (JOB, WBS)