CITY OF SAN FERNANDO—Gov. Dennis “Delta” Pineda said the sangguniang panlalawigan has agreed to his request to conduct an inquiry on the integrity of Covid-19 swab test results after a growing number of positive cases turned negative in just a matter of two to four days.
Pineda said the Department of Health and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine as well as public and private laboratories in the province should be able to explain next week why and how the results of tests using the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) technique can quickly change in a few days.
He said he encountered the problem after he required a re-swab of Covid-19 positive patients who are asymptomatic. In a batch of 23 patients, 14 of them did not show the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In another batch of 15 patients, the virus did not show in 12 persons.
“What process are these laboratories using in testing? Are they testing one sample at a time? Do these follow protocols? Are their machines in good shape? Are the results reliable? We would like to know because the Pampanga Covid-19 Center would like to help our patients in the most appropriate manner,” the governor said after his statement aired on the Capitol’s social media on Wednesday.
“This has caused us a dilemma. What do we do with these people who tested negative the second time? Should we still hold them in our facilities? Should we immediately send them home to their families who stand the risk of being infected? What treatment should be used on these people?” he asked.
On the average, he said, around 300 people take swab tests in two laboratories in Pampanga. These consist largely of employees and people traced to have been exposed to infected person. “Most of them are asymptomatic,” the governor added.
At least 39 new cases on Aug. 26 raised the number of COVID-19 cases in Pampanga to 818. Of that number, 417 are pending or awaiting the results of re-swabbing. At least 373 recovered and 28 died.
Pineda also urge the DOH to regulate the price of swab tests, which range from P3,200 to P6,500 to an amount more affordable to local governments, government agencies, private companies, and individuals.