Rep. Yap is not COVID-19-positive, says RITM; apologizes for 'encoding error'

Published March 27, 2020, 12:16 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Ben Rosario

Issuing a public apology, the country’s leading research and laboratory agency on COVID-19 said Friday that ACT-CIS Party-list Rep. Eric Go Yap is not infected with the disease, as it earlier claimed.


“We wish to publicly apologize to Cong. Eric Go Yap of ACT-CIS Party-list for forwarding a report of his COVID-19 results that displayed a clerical oversight,” the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM) wrote in a Facebook post , a copy of which was sent to the neophyte solon.

“Rep. Yap remains negative of COVID-19,” the agency added as it declared the incident as “isolated.”

Yap, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, admitted on Wednesday that the results of his COVID-19 test released by the DOH-RITM indicated he had caught the disease.

His admission triggered mixed reactions of fear and anger as the neophyte solon recalled that he attended at least three events before his tests came out.

These included a Malacañang meeting on March 21 that was attended by key Congress and executive officials, the special session of Congress on March 23, and a committee hearing on March 11.

The Presidential Security Group launched an investigation into the incident as it warned that the solon may be held responsible for endangering the life of President Duterte.

The DOH-RITM social media declaration was posted by Yap’s office on the Viber thread created by ACT-CIS Party-list for reporters covering the Lower House.

The DOH-RITM revealed that “an encoding error” was discovered late Thursday night by its Molecular Biology Laboratory.

“We maintain that our testing process is compliant with the World Health Organization (WHO) protocol, and that our results remain accurate despite this incident. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing procedure still stands as the gold standard in detecting the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19,” the agency said.

The persons allegedly responsible for the error was not a regular member of the DOH-RITM but was part of an “augmentation staff.”

“Said employee is already being dealt with administratively,” the DOH-RITM stated.

To prevent incidents such as this from happening again in the future, the DOH-RITM said it has added “another layer of verification” for all succeeding reports it will submit.

“We promise that this, and other associated incidents, will never happen again,” the agency statement added.