The Department of Health (DOH) is considering the two Boholano overseas Filipino workers (OFW) who tested positive for coronavirus disease (COVID) last week as “false positive” cases, said Governor Arthur Yap on Monday.
Yap, in a statement, said that DOH 7 director Jaime Bernadas told him that results of the RT-PCR (real-time polymerase chain reaction) testing done on the balikbayans were false positive considering that they were both asymptomatic and showed no signs of viral infection based on rapid and complete blood count (CBC) tests.
“Gi-klaro usab ni Dir. Bernadas nga kadtong duha ka mga OFW nga nagpositibo sa PCR Test, gi-classify sa DOH as False Positive tungod kay wala silay simtomas ng gibati ug walay present infection base sa rapid test ug CBC. Mao kini ang sulti sa DOH isip eksperto sa natad sa maayong panglawas,” Yap said.
Health experts including the World Health Organization however have repeatedly noted that many of those infected with SARS-CoV-2 which causes the COVID 19 respiratory illness are asymptomatic or not showing symptoms.
The PCR test meanwhile is widely considered as the “gold-standard” in COVID-19 testing.
Assistant Provincial Health Officer Dr. Yul Lopez has noted that the two OFWs and other balikbayans who traveled with them to Bohol underwent a second round of PCR tests last week to determine if they are indeed infected.
According to Yap, the results of the repeat PCR tests on the two OFWs have not yet been released due to a testing backlog in Cebu which handles the COVID-19 tests for the entire region.
Yap said that he has repeatedly been following up with Bernadas on the tests results only to find out that a testing machine has bogged down, slowing down the testing process.
“Ingon niya [Bernadas] nga daghan daw kaayo ug backlogged nga mga swab samples nga wala pa nila ma-process tungod kay usa ra ang ilang makina nga magamit kay naguba ang uban ug nagpa-abot pud sila sa ilang bag-ong makina karong semanaha. Mao ni naka-ingon nganong nadugay ang resulta sa PCR test nga atong gihuwat,” he said.
Last week, local physicians argued that a person who tests positive in a PCR should already be considered as infected with COVID-19.
“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,” said Dr. Jeffrey Ong, president of the Bohol Medical Society.
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.