A medical society group official in Bohol said that the two repatriated overseas Filipino workers (OFW) in the province who tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID) 19 in polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests should already be considered to be infected with the respiratory illness, contradicting the Capitol’s move to deem both balikbayans as “probable” cases instead of confirmed cases.
“I do not speak for the DOH [Department of Health], but kung doctor imong pangutan-on, kadtong positive og PCR, positive g’yud to sila,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ong, president of the Bohol Medical Society in an interview over station dyRD’s “Inyong Alagad” program.
Ong’s statement came after the DOH reported last week that two of the 65 OFWs who arrived in the province on April 28 tested positive in PCR tests but the results were refuted by the provincial government as it deemed the findings inconclusive considering that both tested negative twice in previous rapid testing.
The DOH’s nCoV tracker website which reflected that there were three COVID-19 cases in the province last weekend was reverted back to just one case this week as local health authorities conducted another round of PCR tests for confirmation.
Ong however said that the retest made no sense considering that both OFWs already tested positive in PCR tests.
“I don’t know, naglibog bitaw pud ko ana unsa g’yud ang protocol,” said Ong, adding that retests should only be done when a “highly suspicious case” tests negative for the disease to rule out a false-negative.
Ong explained that a PCR test is more reliable than a rapid test which requires the patient’s blood sample and can only detect antibodies.
“Ang PCR, mo test na sa presence gyud sa virus. Dili ang reaction sa imong lawas, so kung positive gani ang PCR, positive g’yud na siya, naa g’yud na siya’y virus sa iyang lawas. Dili nana nimo ma-deny whether or not naay siya’y simtomas, positive g’yud na siya,” he said.
Doctor Byran Cepedoza, one of at least three pulmonologists in the province, also shared the same input, saying that a negative rapid test only indicates that the body did not produce antibodies as a reaction to the viral infection.
“Regardless of symptoms. When your RT-PCR test for COVID19 is positive but negative for rapid antibody test, it means that you are positive for COVID19 but did not develop immunity. It’s that simple,” Cepedoza said in a Facebook post.
Assistant provincial health officer Dr. Yul Lopez, the Capitol’s spokesperson on COVID-19-related matters, said in a virtual presser that swab samples were again taken on Wednesday from the two OFWS and 63 others from their batch of balikbayans who are now quarantined in three separate facilities.
Swab samples were also taken from 11 frontliners including medical workers and police who were in contact with the OFWs and 87 influenza-like illness patients from across the province.
The samples were sent to the subnational laboratory of the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City for testing. (R. Tutas)