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DOH: VIPs made direct requests to RITM to be tested for COVID-19

By Analou De Vera

The Department of Health (DOH) said on Tuesday that some personalities had made a “direct request” to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for them to be tested for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III (CZAR DANCEL / MANILA BULLETIN)

“There were direct requests made to the RITM by the ‘VIP.’ I have no details of each one of them that had requested for testing. Suffice it to say that indeed, some of them had really fit in the initial criteria for testing,” said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III in a television interview on Tuesday morning.

Duque said the “VIPs” met the previous criteria of the DOH on its protocol on COVID-19 testing.

“For those VIPs, so to speak, who had requested that they be tested, they actually fit in the initial set of criteria that would allow them for testing because the March 16 protocol for testing had been changed,” he said.

Previously, those who would show even mild symptoms, who had travel exposure to a place where there is local transmission, and exposure to a positive patient, can be tested for COVID-19, said Duque.

The current testing protocol includes those who are experiencing severe symptoms, elderly people, and those with underlying medical conditions.

On Monday, the DOH said that there is “no policy for VIP treatment and that all specimens are being processed on a first-in, first-out basis, with courtesy accorded to officials holding positions of national security and public health.”

Duque said that there might be a “re-calibration” of the current testing protocol due to the arrival of more testing kits and the increased capacity in laboratory testing.

“There would have to be re-calibration of those testing criteria because now we have more–we have a 100,000 testing kits from China that have already been evaluated to be in accordance with the standards of RITM,” he said.

“We might have to include really more people even with mild symptoms to be tested to get a real, more accurate reflection of the rate of infection that’s happening in certain communities where COVID infection has been spreading,” he said.

Duque added that they expect the number of COVID-19 cases in the country to rise in the coming days.

“Talagang mas marami tayong makukuhang mga kaso ngayon dahil [We will be able to detect more case because] unlike a few days back, few weeks back—- we really had very limited testing kits and that is not surprising because most of these testing kits had to be initially used by countries that had much more COVID cases,” he said.

To note, there are 462 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, including 33 deaths. The total number of recoveries is 18.

Source: Manila Bulletin

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