DOH slammed for misinformation on COVID origin in PH

Sen. Nancy Binay rebuked the Department of Health (DOH) Sunday for twisting facts and sowing misinformation on the origins of COVID-19 in the Philippines and how it started spreading in the country.

Senator Nancy Binay
(Senate of the Philippines / FILE PHOTO / MANILA BULLETIN)

Binay said the DOH should remember that the disease originated from Chinese tourists from Wuhan, China who were positively identified as the first carriers of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines.

DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire had earlier said there’s not enough evidence to conclude that the first three cases involving three Chinese nationals who arrived in the Philippines in January were the ones responsible for spreading the coronavirus in the country.

Vergeire made the statement even after the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) released a study on the gene sequencing on COVID-19 showing that the original strains of the disease came from Wuhan, the center of China’s Hubei province.

Binay said she is aghast at how the DOH would downplay this part of the issue and urged the agency to explain. She, likewise, urged the DOH to stop twisting facts to appease other people or countries.

"Seryoso?! So, di pala sa turistang Chinese galing ang COVID sa Pilipinas. But would the DOH be willing to explain to us kung sino ang nagdala at kung paano nakalusot ang COVID sa atin?  (Is this serious?! So it’s not the Chinese tourists who brought the COVID in the Philippines. But would the DOH be willing to explain to us who brought it here and how the COVID-19 managed to enter the Philippines?)” Binay stressed.

“By saying that the evidence that COVID-19 came from these Chinese tourists is insufficient is practically admitting that they are a failure in contact tracing -- which explains why they failed to stem the spread of the virus -- and continue to be so,” she pointed out.

Binay said such pronouncement from the DOH is the very reason why the COVID-19 issue in the Philippines remain unresolved.

“Dahil mas pinapagulo pa lalo ng DOH ang sitwasyon. Kaya di natin mabigyan ng lunas ang problema dahil kailangan pagtakpan muna o tapalan kahit meron namang solusyon (DOH is making the situation more confusing. That’s why we can’t come up with a solution to the problem because they need to cover-up or protect them even though there is a clear solution),” she said.

DOH officials, she said, should get their act together and stop making remarks that are careless, irresponsible, and prone to wholesale misinterpretations.

"When politics coopts with public health, the facts are made to change, and the responses also change -- kaya laging di nagtutugma ang solusyon sa problema (that’s why the solution to the problem do not match), and the people are made to embrace a capital mistake," Binay said.