5 Land Transportation Office (LTO) branches within Metro Manila will be closed until further notice. This is due to some of its employees testing positive during rapid testing procedures. In a memorandum, the LTO said that some of its employees from certain NCR offices tested positive from the rapid antibody testing (rapid testing) done this week. Rapid testing is still ongoing as of this writing.
Pursuant to the Department of Health (DOH) memo 2020-0180, or the Revised Guidelines on Expanded Testing for COVID-19, “all asymptomatic non-healthcare workers who are close contacts of confirmed cases need to complete 14-days of quarantine from the date of last contact with the confirmed case either at a temporary treatment and monitoring facility or home quarantine if with a solo room and toilet, regardless of the rapid antibody-based test result. If symptoms develop at any time, collect samples for RT-PCR (swab) testing.”
According to LTO NCR West Regional Director, Atty. Clarence "Chuck" Guinto, 7 out of the 1,200 LTO employees were flagged during rapid antibody testing, but that doesn’t mean the employees were already coronavirus positive. “Hindi ibig-sabihin na COVID-19 [positive] na ang mga yan, mahina lang resistensya nila. (It doesn't mean they're COVID-19 positive. It just means their immune system is weak and may be susceptible.)”
Out of the 7, Guinto added, only 3 also failed the confirmatory tests and are now undergoing swab tests as required by existing IATF-EID guidelines.
Put simply, Rapid Testing is done to detect antibodies and help determine who might be at high risk of contracting the coronavirus. These rapid tests are designed for use where a preliminary screening test result is required and are especially useful in resource-limited countries. They in no way determine if the person is in fact COVID-19 positive. If a person is flagged by the rapid testing procedure, it is only then that he or she will be subjected to the swab test to confirm if that person contracted COVID-19.
The 5 LTO branches that will be closed until further notice are: LTO NCR West Regional Office (Manila), LTO Caloocan District Office, LTO Caloocan Licensing Extension Office, LTO Navotas Extension Office, and LTO Driver’s License Renewal Office Araneta Square Mall.
The LTO employees that were flagged by the rapid tests were directed to submit themselves to RT-PCR/ swab test immediately.