Early crafting of clinical guidelines, information dissemination cited for low PH COVID case fatality rate

The early crafting of clinical guidelines and information dissemination are among the factors why the Philippines has a low case fatality rate (CFR) for COVID-19, an official of the Department of Health (DoH) said.

The Philippines “had a rough start” during the early days of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country because “at that point in time we did not know a lot about the virus,” said Dr. Beverly Ho, director of the DoH Health Promotion and Communication Service during an online forum Friday.

“From February -- when we started, there was really just supported care, meaning, pagpunta ka ng hospital, suero, that’s really what you do for a typical viral infection,” she noted.

Ho said that by the end of March, different public and private medical societies had crafted a “solid clinical practice guideline.”

“Then with that, I think it became clear to the responders how to treat COVID infections,” said Ho.

“We were very fortunate that we had really committed frontliners but also medical societies who rose to the challenge and said, ‘Okay, we will have interim clinical practice guidelines,”’ she added.

Another point why the country has a low CFR is that the dissemination of information that those 60-years-old and above and with comorbidities are the ones at risk for COVID-19, said the Health official.

“Probably, the last point there that we could attribute is the fact that early on, we also learned that the infection was worse for certain age groups,” said Ho.

“This is where an information campaign or a good public reminder has shown to be very important,” she added.

Ho noted the Filipino culture of taking good care of the elderly in the household.

“We as Filipinos, we love our family members so much talagang nakinig 'yung mga tao when we said 'let the elderly stay home.' And I think this is one of the crucial turning points for lowering our case fatality rate,” she said.

“Alam natin malaking sakripisyo 'yun for the elderly who want to go out, roam around, but the fact that everyone made sure that their senior family members, immunocompromised stay home -- that actually contributed a lot in the improvement in our CFR,” she added.

In its latest case bulletin, the DoH reported 47 new fatalities Friday, bringing the death toll to 4,830. The country’s case fatality rate is at 1.7 percent.

The number of cases increased to 279,526 with 3,257 new cases. The tally on recoveries, meanwhile, jumped to 208,790 with 733 more patients who have recovered.