The Supreme Court (SC) has ordered all trial courts to only impose lockdowns based on results of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests for the COVID-19 virus.
In a circular, Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said “courts or halls of justice shall not be closed or locked down on the basis solely of the results of rapid antibody tests.”
“In the interim, courts exposed to subjects who tested positive using rapid antibody test shall neither be closed or locked down,” he instructed.
“Initial contact tracing for monitoring of individuals who may thereafter exhibit symptoms shall be conducted,” he added.
The court administrator also advised those showing symptoms to “undergo self-quarantine for 14 days, or until they become asymptomatic, whichever is longer.”
Marquez reminded that the Department of Health (DOH) issues guidelines which state that “[rapid] antibody-based test kits shall not used as a standalone tests to definitely diagnose or rule out COVID-19” and must be used in conjunction with PCR testing.
With this, the Marquez instructed judges and court personnel who tested positive from rapid antibody tests to “immediately undergo confirmatory RT-PCR (swab) testing…”
While waiting for results of RT-PCR tests, he said judges and court personnel should go on self-quarantine or, upon recommendation of a doctor who administered the test, referred for possible admission to a hospital if symptoms are already present.
“Any action taken by the courts due to confirmed COVID-19 cases, e.g., lockdown, work from home arrangement, shall be cleared with the OCA (Office of the Court Administrator),” said Marquez.
He also advised court users who tested positive to immediately inform the courts they visited.
Marquez also told those who have been exposed to those confirmed with COVID-19 that they “shall submit to isolation in a health facility and shall undergo laboratory confirmatory test.”