After denying that the Department of Health (DOH) doesn’t prioritize asymptomatic politicians, Sec. Francisco Duque III admitted today, Mar. 24, that some VIPs did make direct requests to get tested for COVID-19. [Insert clown emoji here]
In an interview on CNN Philippines, Duque claimed these VIPs contacted the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) and that they passed DOH’s initial criteria for testing. “I have no details of each one of them that requested for testing, suffice it to say that indeed some of them had really fit in the initial criteria for testing.”
As of Mar. 16, the DOH triage guidelines state that only individuals with exposure to COVID-19-positive patients and those who recently traveled to countries with local transmission, as well as those with pre-existing health conditions and the elderly are allowed to be tested. This is to prioritize those with mild to severe symptoms due to the lack of testing kits and medical facilities in the country.
Several government officials received backlash for undergoing tests despite being asymptomatic. According to a previous Inquirer.net report, RITM staffers were allegedly “ordered” to prioritize the COVID-19 diagnostics of at least 34 officials, including their family members. One staffer claimed that it delayed the tests of PUIs (persons under investigation) and PUMs (persons under monitoring).
Duque explained that DOH might come up with a new set of criteria for testing with the arrival of more testing kits from China, Singapore and South Korea. This is on top of the testing kits developed by the scientists from the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health (UP-NIH). This makes us wonder if Duque would actually recalibrate DOH’s guidelines if they weren’t called out for allegedly prioritizing VIPs.
The DOH should also reconsider their stance on mass testing so they can detect and treat COVID-19 patients early. As of writing, there are 501 cases in the Philippines, including 33 deaths and 19 recoveries.[Inquirer.net]
Photo courtesy of Inquirer.net
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