On September 14, 2020, the Department of Health Region 10 issued a Regional Circular No. 2020-039, “Regional Guidelines on Expanded Testing for COVID-19,” addressed to Governors, Mayors, Medical Center Chiefs, Development Management Officers, and Other Health Care Workers.

With this, Governor Imelda ‘Angging’ Quibranza-Dimaporo urgently called for a Consultation Meeting with the Municipal Mayors, Municipal Health Officers, and participated by the members of the Sangguniang Panlalawigan headed by Vice Governor Maria Cristina N. Atay at the Multipurpose Building, Governor Arsenio A. Quibranza Provincial Government Center grounds, Pigcarangan, Tubod, on September 29, 2020.

Governor Angging humbly solicited the stand of the Local Chief Executives and the Municipal Health Officers whether or not to implement the recommendation of DOH 10 in using the Antibody Rapid Diagnostic Test to incoming Locally Stranded Individuals (LSIs) and Returning Overseas Filipinos (ROFs).

In one of the protocols, it is expressly stated that Asymptomatic individuals with no clear exposure or travel history should not be tested with RDT for screening purposes, and added that due to the low sensitivity and specificity, RDT kits are not recommended by the Health Technology Assessment Council (HTAC). And for screening purposes, individuals who are asymptomatic should be screened by asking for pertinent travel or contact history, as well as checking for Influenza-Like Illness (ILI) such as fever, cough, and dyspnea. RDT is not recommended as a screening tool, it added.

For the Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte, since its availability, the Antibody RDT has been used as a primary tool to screen incoming individuals, especially the LSIs and ROFs, and those who are found IgM positive are immediately isolated and taken swab samples for RT-PCR as a confirmatory test. While those that are IgM negative, they will still undergo the 14-day quarantine period either in the quarantine facilities managed by the Provincial Government, Municipal, or the Barangay for proper monitoring.

With the clamor of using the Antigen RDT, as believed to be more accurate than the Antibody RDT, Ms. Sittie Aminah Quibranza-Dimaporo, the Provincial Administrator and the IMT Deputy Responsible Officer, said that until such time the Department of Health will approve the use of Antigen RDT, the Provincial Government of Lanao del Norte is ready to purchase the Antigen RDT for it has already allocated funds to it.

Governor Angging added that if the Antibody RDT will not be used to screen the LSIs and ROFs, the possibility of local transmission cases will increase in the province. And with the unanimous decision of the Municipal Mayors and the Municipal Health Officers and the Doctors to the Barrio, the Antibody RDT will still be used as a screening tool, until such time the Antigen RDT will be approved by DOH. And per Provincial Ordinance No. 10-2020, as amended by Provincial Ordinance No. 13-2020, LSIs and ROFs are required to submit themselves for Rapid Testing at the Provincial Health Office.

Municipal Mayor Hanifa L. Ali of Balo-i, earnestly expressed her appreciation to Governor Imelda ‘Angging’ Quibranza-Dimaporo for effectively managing the COVID-19 pandemic and the unwavering support extended by the Governor to the Municipalities for the welfare of the people of the Province of Lanao del Norte, “The Land of Beauty and Bounty.” PIO-LDN