Gov’t assures safe swab tests in PH after reported complication in US

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, October 3) — The public should not fear taking a swab test, the Department of Health said Saturday in the wake of reports that a patient in the US suffered a brain fluid leak after the nasal procedure.

“The government is ensuring na safe po ang pagsagawa ng mga specimen collections dito sa ating bansa (that the conduct of specimen collections in our country is safe),” Health Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said in an online media briefing.

Sana po huwag mabahala ang ating mga kababayan (We’re hoping the public will not worry),” she said.

The health undersecretary was asked to respond to an October 1 article published by the US-based JAMA Otolaryngology–Head & Neck Surgery, an international peer-reviewed medical journal. 

It discusses the case of a woman with pre-existing encephalocele, a rare skull disorder. She underwent nasal swab testing for COVID-19 and was later diagnosed with cerebrospinal fluid leak. Doctors believe it is the first case of such complication from a nasal test.

There should be alternative methods to nasal screening in patients with known skull base defects or other related conditions, the article read.

Vergeire said strict protocols are being followed in the country to avoid any problem during coronavirus testing. Only trained and skilled workers and licensed facilities can administer the test, using the proper procedure and materials.

“Even those who are doing remote collection binabantayan po natin ‘yan, nagmo-monitor po tayo, nag-o-on-the-spot check (we monitor and conduct on-the-spot checks),” Vergeire said.

The Department of Health on Friday also released to the media the current specimen collection policies, which mandate the use of the approved kits and implementation of infection control guidelines during the testing.