By Analou De Vera
The country’s confirmed cases of COVID-19 has risen to 12,942, the Department of Health (DOH) announced in its latest case bulletin.
The DOH reported 224 new cases as of 4 p.m. of May 19, Tuesday. Of the newly confirmed cases, 174 were from Metro Manila and 50 from other regions.
A total of 2,843 patients have recovered from the disease so far. Based on the case bulletin, there were 114 additional patients who were able to recover.
The Health department also reported six new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 837.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire reiterated anew that the DOH is conducting “expanded” testing.
“Meron na tayong programa for expanded testing. Kung matatandaan nyo nung nag-umpisa tayo… we’re really focusing on the vulnerable saka ‘yung mga severe and critical [cases] (We already have a program for expanded testing. If you remember, when we started, we were really focusing on the vulnerable and the severe and critical cases),” said Vergeire in a press briefing.
“But later on, because of this expanded testing policy, naisama na natin kahit ‘yung may mild lang na sintomas (we have now included those with mild symptoms) but with exposure, and even [those] asymptomatic are being tested now,” she added.
Vergeire made the remark after Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said that mass testing is not being done yet due to limited resources.
“Alam mo mula pa nung nagumpisa, we try to veer away with this term na mass testing kasi gusto namin isipin ng mga tao na this is not indiscriminate testing. Kasi pag sinabi mong mass testing, iniisip ng mga tao buong populasyon ng Pilipinas, which is not the case (From the beginning, we have been trying to veer away from this term ‘mass testing,’ because we want people to realize this is not indiscriminate testing. Because when you say ‘mass testing,’ people assume that the entire population of the Philippines would be tested, which is not the case),” said Vergeire.
Based on the guidelines of the DOH, there are four categories under the expanded testing.
The first category includes patients or healthcare workers with severe or critical symptoms and have had history of travel or exposure to a COVID-19 patient. The second category includes patients or healthcare workers with mild symptoms, with relevant history of travel or exposure, and are considered vulnerable—those who are 60 years old and above, or those who have other illnesses.
The third category counts patients or healthcare workers who are not considered vulnerable but with mild symptoms and relevant history of travel or exposure to a COVID-19 patient. The fourth category includes those with no symptoms but have relevant history of travel or exposure.
“Ang expanded testing …tayo ay mag-fofocus sa mga taong kailangan i-test talaga, because of exposure and because of symptoms (Under an expanded testing, we will focus on people who need it most, because of exposure and because of symptoms),” she added.