The Department of Health (DOH) should speed up its procurement of 2019 novel acute respiratory disease coronavirus (2019 nCoV ARD) rapid test kits in light of two confirmed cases in the country, one of which led to death, a senator said Wednesday.
The call was made by Senator Francis Tolentino a day after the Senate held a hearing on the government’s response to nCoV. It was revealed during the said hearing that only 17 per cent of the 331 plane passengers boarded by the Chinese couple found positive for nCoV in the country were monitored by authorities.
Tolentino cited experts from Jiangsu province in eastern China have already developed a “rapid nucleic test kit” that can detect the virus within eight to fifteen minutes.
On January 29, the DOH got its “primers” or confirmatory test kits that were used for people under investigation for potential novel coronavirus (2019-nCov). Results are released 48 hours later.
Nearly a week later on February 4, the National Institutes of Health University of the Philippines announced on Tuesday that it has developed a test kit for nCoV and may be ready for use by next week.
A 38-year-old Chinese woman was the first case of nCoV in the Philippines, while her partner, a Chinese male aged 44, was the second confirmed case of nCoV. The male died Saturday, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Sunday reported.
Authorities had not confirmed the second nCoV case prior to the said announcement. Initial tests revealed, according to the DOH, that the specimens of the Chinese female were more representative of nCoV, and had to be prioritized in Australia for confirmation.
The male test was later performed by the Tropical Medicine Research Institute after reagents and coronavirus strain priming arrived in the country, and a laboratory was set up for local confirmatory testing.
The first nCoV death outside China was the death of the 44-year-old Chinese male while confined at San Lazaro Hospital.