MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte wants to ensure that the 2019 coronavirus disease (Covid-19) tests in the country are “accurate,” Malacañang said on Tuesday.
This after Duterte instructed the Department of Health (DOH) to investigate reports that the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) produced “false positive” results from reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests (RT-PCR).
President’s spokesman Harry Roque said the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM), under the DOH, had been directed to conduct research to ensure that the machines used for the Covid-19 tests provide accurate results.
“Kaya nga pinapaimbestigahan natin para (So we order a probe so that) we make sure the tests are actually accurate. Now we know they’re not perfect, but we’re taking steps to make them more accurate, ”Roque said in a virtual press.
In his taped Talk to the People, which aired Monday night, Duterte said he had received reports of botched RT-PCR test results being processed in various PRC molecular laboratories.
Duterte said 44 out of 49 hospital staff who tested positive for Covid-19 in the PRC molecular laboratory in Subic received negative results after being retested in another facility.
He added that 187 out of 213 Presidential Security Group employees tested positive while processing the PRC Manila, but returned negative results on their confirmatory testing in another laboratory.
Thirteen officers from the finance department, Duterte said, had the same experience.
When asked if Duterte questions the integrity of Covid-19 tests in the country, Roque said, “I think that’s a wrong conclusion. I think the president wants our tests to be more accurate. “
Check the testing machines of other laboratories
Roque said Duterte expects the RITM to also check the accuracy of Covid-19 testing equipment used by molecular laboratories other than the PRC.
He said RITM could perform an assessment “at random” to ensure that there were no errors in the publication of the RT-PCR test results.
“I think this is the offshoot of the President’s order that RITM – dahil medyo matagal-tagal, that all yyan (since we’ve been using these machines for a long time) – really have to do whatever it takes to test the accuracy, maski (even) coincidentally, ‘yung mga makinang ginagamit natin ngayon (the machines we use now), ”said Roque.
The RITM is already investigating the PRC chapter in Subic for complaints about the alleged publication of false positive Covid-19 test results. (PNA)