Stay Safe From Omicron: The COVID-19 Testing Options to Be Aware Of
Everything you need to know about the available types of COVID-19 tests and where you can get them
Amid the holiday gatherings and reunions, it’s unfortunate, yet somehow unsurprising, that the country saw yet another surge in COVID-19 cases. With Omicron at large and now the dominant variant, the virus continues to threaten the public’s health as the fastest spreading virus in history.
Staying safe at home, following basic health protocols, and being aware of symptoms such as cough, fatigue, nasal congestion or even a simple headache are the best ways to ensure everyone’s safety and wellness. But while it’s ideal to stay safe at home until the end of a surge, going out for the essentials is simply unavoidable. In the event of exposure, the best course of action is to confirm your condition through a COVID-19 test. Ahead, a guide that lists down the different COVID-19 tests currently available and where you can get them.
What are the COVID-19 test types?
RT PCR Test
An RT-PCR (short for “reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction test”) uses two separate swabs: one for the nose, another for the throat. Among the three common types of tests, this is, by far, the most accurate way of determining whether a person is positive or negative for COVID-19. The recommendation for this test will depend on your antigen or antibody test result, which can take around 24 to 48 hours, depending on the laboratory.
In terms of pricing, it’s important to note that the rates according to laboratory category must not go below or beyond the following:
- Private (₱4,500 to ₱5,000)
- Public (₱3,800)
This COVID test works by measuring the number of antibodies in your blood versus the virus. An antibody test can detect possible exposure, recovery and infection rate, but should not be used to diagnose COVID-19.
Since antibodies can take weeks or months to develop, antibodies that may have fought off an infection a month ago, for example, can still appear on the test.
Healthcare institutions, such as The Medical City, charge around ₱2,200 for the antibody test, with results made available in as quick as 24 hours.
Rapid Antigen Test
This antigen test detects specific proteins through nasal or throat swabs, with results showing in as fast as 15 minutes. While it is reported that positive antigen tests are highly accurate, negative test results should not signal complacency. It is recommended that anyone exposed to a COVID-positive individual must still monitor their symptoms and get a more precise reading with an RT-PCR test.
According to the DOH, the price cap for antigen tests is ₱960.
Where can I get tested?
QR Diagnostics Laboratories
QR Diagnostics is a private laboratory that provides a range of COVID-19 tests. They offer a home service, drive-thru swab service and self-testing options. You can book an appointment and have a detailed look at their rates by visiting their website.
Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory
The Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory, located in Pasay City, provides a home service, drive-thru swab service and self-testing options, along with allowing walk-ins, for all three types of COVID tests. They also have express RT-PCR tests that can deliver results within 12 hours. Visit their page to learn more about their affordable testing services.
Philippine Red Cross
With the Philippine Red Cross, you can book RT-PCR testing via setting an appointment online. Prices start around ₱1,500 and the average turnaround for samples is 72 to 96 hours.
Manila Hospitals and Quirino Grandstand Drive-thru
Hospitals in Manila offer free testing for both residents and non-residents of Manila. This service is available from 8AM to 5PM, Monday through Friday. People on the go can also take a quick test at the Quirino Grandstand drive-thru. For this, there is no need to book an appointment; only walk-ins are accommodated.
Asian Hospital and Medical Center
The Asian Hospital and Medical Center is a private hospital in Muntinlupa City that offers various COVID-19 tests such as the RT-PCR, Rapid COVID-19 Antibody Test or Anti-SARS-CoV-2 by ECLIA. You can book your appointment through their website.
Hi-Precision Diagnostics is a private laboratory that offers both walk-in and home appointments, where offers include RT-PCR and Antigen tests. In-clinic booth swabs are roughly around ₱2,800 while home-service tests are ₱3,800. The turnover of results is within 24 to 36 hours.
To beating COVID-19 together
In case you’re on the lookout for more testing options, refer to the detailed list of all DOH-certified COVID-19 testing centers in the Philippines.
Finally, even if you’re fully vaccinated, it’s important to always be vigilant and keep the latest news about COVID-19 in mind. If in case another lockdown happens, brushing up on the COVID Alert Level Guide ought to equip you with everything you need to know, too.
Still, it all comes back to this: getting vaccinated as individuals is our best collective chance to beat the virus. So get vaccinated, register for your VaxCertPH, and let’s beat COVID-19 together.