By Analou De Vera
The Department of Health (DOH) said that they are facing four challenges in validating confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country.
“Sa kasalukuyan po, meron tayong apat na issue na kinakaharap sa pag-vavalidate ng mga kaso na syang dahilan ng delay sa pagrereport ng official cases (Currently, we are facing four issues in validating the cases which are causing delays in reporting official cases),” said Health Undersercretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.
Based on the DOH COVID-19 Situationer data, there are 19,775 people positive with COVID-19 in the country as of May 21. Meanwhile, the DOH said that the number of confirmed cases is at 13,597 as of May 22.
The first challenge is the country’s increasing testing capacity that leads to more validation of positive cases, said Vergeire.
“Habang mas malaki po ang ating tinetest, mas marami po ang lumalabas na positibong kaso at nangangahulugan din na mas maraming kaso ang kinakailangan i-validate ng ating epidemiology bureau (As we test more people, positive cases also emerge–this means more cases are needed to be validated by our epidemiology bureau),” said Vergeire.
The second challenge is the lack of disease surveillance officers (DSOs) to monitor cases, encode case investigation forms, and upload the data into information systems, said Vergeire.
“Habang tumataas ang bilang ng mga kasong pumapasok, mas dumadami ang kinakailangan i-encode ng ating mga DSOs sa information system lalo na ngayong nagtratransition na tayo into a fully electronic system (As the number of cases increase, our DSOs need to encode more data in the information system, especially as we are transitioning into a fully electronic system),” said Vergeire.
“Kaya nagkakaroon tayo ng mga backlogs [in case encoding]. Dito po lumalaki ang pagitan ng officially confirmed cases at positive individuals na testing output ng ating laboratory (That’s why we have backlog [in case encoding]. This is where the gap widens between the officially confirmed cases and the positive individuals which are the testing output of our laboratories),” she added.
The third challenge is the possibility of duplicate cases based on similar sounding names, while the fourth is the possibility of duplicate cases based on retesting of individuals, said Vergeire.
“Upang masiguro na ito ay magkaibang kaso, kailangan i-validate iyan ng DSOs sa mga testing laboratories o hindi kaya sa mga ospital o maaring tawagan nila mismo ang pasyente upang ma-confirm ito (To make sure this is a different case, the DSOs needs to validate it in testing laboratories or in hospitals, or they will call the patient to confirm it),” said Vergeire.
The Health official emphasized that the validation of COVID-19 positive cases is a thorough process to ensure that the data being released to the public is correct.
“Ang mga datos mula sa ating network of license laboratories at mga datos na galing sa mga RESU (Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit) at iba pang surveillance units gaya ng hospital ay kino-consolidate po ng aming epidemiology bureau at vinavalidate isa-isa upang masigurong accurate ang ating data [Data from our network of licensed laboratories and data from RESUs and other surveillance units such as hospitals will be consolidated by our epidemiology bureau. They are validated individually to ensure our data is accurate],” said Vergeire.
“Maraming steps ang kailangan daanan bago ito umabot sa ating epidemiology bureau na nagvavalidate nito bago namin ito isa-publiko (Several steps need to be taken before it reaches our epidemiology bureau that validates it before we make it public),” she added.
Vergeire, meanwhile, assured that the DOH is working to address these challenges.
“Itong mga problemang ito ay pinagtutuunan natin ng pansin at ginagawan ng solusyon upang mapabilis po ang pagva-validate ng cases at ma close po natin ang (We are focusing on solving these problems in order to hasten the validation of cases and close the) gap between official case counts and lab[oratory]-outputs,” she said.
“Patuloy pong nakikipagtulungan ang aming epidemiology bureau sa iba’t-ibang development partners upang maresolba ang mga issues na ito (Our epidemiology bureau continues to work with various development partners to resolve these issues),” she added.