By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health (DOH) announced on Friday afternoon that the number of confirmed cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the Philippines has climbed to 230, after it recorded 13 new cases.
The DOH also reported another death among COVID-19 patients in the country, bringing the total number of fatalities to 18.
“Today, DOH reports one additional death and no new recoveries. The total number of recoveries is still at eight, while the total number of deaths is now at 18,” the Health department stated.
The new fatality involved the country’s 124th confirmed case. He was a 65-year-old Filipino from Quezon City. He had a travel history to Singapore and was admitted to the St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon. The DOH said that he died Tuesday (March 17).
In a related development, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire answered criticisms about the “preferential testing” that was done among officials of the government.
Recently, government officials were reported to have been tested for COVID-19 after they were exposed to a positive individual.
“Noong ginawa po natin ang mga test na ito sa high level officials, ang atin pong testing or ang ating diagnostic criteria ay hindi pa nababago,” Vergeire said.
(When we tested the high level officials, our testing or diagnostic criteria had not yet been changed.)
“If you will take note of the chronology doon sa mga polisiya na nilalabas namin, amin pong binago ang aming critieria for diagnosing and identifying people na ia-admit o ite-test. Pero ito pong mga na-test natin na higher officials during that time ay nakapasok pa po sila doon sa (previous) criteria natin,” she said.
(If you will take note of the chronology of the policies we released, we changed the criteria for diagnosing and identifying people for admission and testing. At the time we tested those higher officials, they met our previous criteria.)
Previously, those with symptoms of COVID-19 and had a history of travel for the past 14 days to a country with localized transmission were the ones being tested.
Based on the new decision tool of the DOH, individuals manifesting severe symptoms, elderly people, and those with underlying conditions would be tested for COVID-19.
Among those officials who were recently tested for COVID-19 were senators Miguel Zubiri, Sherwin Gatchalian, Nancy Binay, Christopher “Bong” Go, and President Duterte.