Valenzuela City mayor Gatchalian fears there are more silent 'carriers' of COVID-19

Published April 16, 2020, 7:28 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Joseph Almer Pedrajas 

At least five Valenzuela City residents have been discovered positive for coronavirus disease (COVID-19) despite being asymptomatic and not included in the Department of Health’s (DOH’s) new case definition.

(Rex Gatchalian official Facebook page / MANILA BULLETIN)
Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian (Rex Gatchalian official Facebook page / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Mayor Rex Gatchalian disclosed this last Wednesday, April 15, night after receiving initial results from its mass testing program. He has expressed concern that there might be more silent “carriers” in the communities.

“Today we got the second and third results of our mass testing from The Medical City. Five of our residents tested positive of the 40 results,” he said in a Twitter post.

“[I already] relayed to DOH my observations that for me is alarming,” he added. According to Gatchalian, the city’s five new cases were previously called the persons under monitoring (PUMs).

However, they are now no longer included in any of the DOH new case definitions as they were not showing any symptoms, which implies that they were no longer a priority to be tested.

“In the new category of DOH, the PUM category [is already in the] last priority in the hierarchy of swabbing…. Pero when we swabbed [them anyway], nag positive sila,” he noted.

Gatchalian was concerned that by not testing PUMs, we might be “in danger of releasing potential carries into the community that may lead to contagion.”

According to the local government, the five new patients are now identified as VC48, VC49, VC50, VC51 and VC52.

The Manila Bulletin learned that VC50 and VC51 are the close contacts of VC24, who tested positive for COVID-19 on April 6 and has since been admitted to a local hospital for treatment, said Dr. Jaime Esconde, head of the city’s health office.

This means that VC50 and VC51 are carriers but have been asymptomatic for more than a week since their last exposure until they got tested.

“From what we saw sa results of our mass testing, removing the PUMs as a must test category made a whole swath of potential carriers disperse into the general population without knowing if they are really negative,” Gatchalian added.

Esconde said that there might be factors why some patients are asymptomatic, including “them having better immune system.”

“So with mass testing, it will [stop] the chain of transmission and it will help contain the virus. It’s essential,” he added.