Covid-19 saliva test now available at Subic Freeport

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SUBIC BAY FREEPORT — The Subic Bay Metropolitan Authority (SBMA) announced that saliva testing is now available at the Subic Freeport.

The saliva test, a more comfortable and affordable alternative to the nasal swabbing method for COVID-19 testing, was provided at the port under a joint project between the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) and the SBMA.

SBMA Chairman and Administrator Wilma Eisma said the PRC opened yesterday a saliva collection facility at the PRC-SBMA COVID-19 Testing Center near the Subic Bay Freeport main gate for its Saliva-Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (Saliva RT-PCR) testing program.

The Red Cross rolled out the saliva testing program in Manila late last month following approval by the Department of Health (DOH) of the use of saliva as an alternative specimen for Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-PCR) testing.

“It’s just like the nasopharyngeal swabbing procedure in terms of efficacy because it uses the same system, which is the RT-PCR,” Eisma explained during the project launch.

“But while others find the nasopharyngeal swabbing somewhat painful, this one is not because it’s non-invasive. To top it all, it’s way cheaper than the swab test,” she added.

The saliva test, which is touted to be a quick and safe alternative for diagnosing COVID-19 infections, requires patients to spit through a tube into a small specimen collection container. About 1-2 mL of saliva is needed for testing.

The procedure is also said to be safer because there is less risk of exposure between the patients and the health care workers collecting the samples.

Moreover, processing of the sample in the testing machine takes less time, thus allowing for the release of test results in about 6 to 12 hours, the PRC said.

The PRC also noted that the saliva test costs from P1,500 to P2,000 and has an accuracy rate of 98.23 percent, while the nasal swab test, which is 99-percent accurate, costs from P3,800 to P5,000.

To date, only the Red Cross saliva RT-PCR test has been approved by the DOH as a saliva-based testing method to detect COVID-19 infections, the PRC added.

SBMA Deputy Administrator for Health and Safety Ronnie Yambao said there are now two booths dedicated for saliva testing at PRC-SBMA COVID-19 Testing Center, although the testing facility would continue to accommodate those who would prefer the nasopharyngeal swabbing procedure.

Those who want to take the saliva test here should deposit a P2,000 payment to the Philippine Red Cross account number 0132062464009 at Security Bank in Mandaluyong EDSA, and then email proof of payment and details of the person who will get tested to saliva.olongapo@redcross.org.ph.

In response, the PRC will email an online registration link for the customer to get the Retrieval Code, which must be presented at the PRC-SBMA COVID-19 Testing Center in order to proceed with the collection of saliva specimen.

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