3 senators doubt DOH data on COVID-19 recoveries

Senator Francis Pangilinan on Friday questioned the Department of Health (DOH) over the sudden increase of COVID-19 recoveries in the Philippines.

"May himala ba? May madyik? Ang mga doktor, dapat nagpapagaling sa pasyente, hindi nangdudoktor ng numero at impormasyon (Was there a miracle? Magic? Doctors should be treating patients, not doctoring numbers and information),” Pangilinan said.

The opposition senator issued the statement after the DOH reported on Thursday a record-high recoveries of 38,075 in a single day due to its "enhanced data reconciliation efforts with local government units."

The department earlier this month started implementing a "mass recovery" adjustment wherein patients who no longer show symptoms are re-classified by doctors as recovered without the need for further testing.

Pangilinan, however, said that in doing this, the DOH would be "muddling" the COVID-19 data by combining the mild patients with those who have actually recovered from the disease. He also warned that it patients would be given a false sense of security that they are already well.

"Makakapanghawa at mas maraming magkakasakit 'pag ang maysakit ay tinawag na ‘recovered’ kung hindi naman ito na-test (More will be infected and fall ill if cases are considered 'recovered' without even testing them). Patayin ba ang taumbayan ang gustong mangyari ng gobyerno (Does the government intend to kill our people)?"

Opposition Senator Risa Hontiveros also expressed surprise over the ‘’conflicting’’ and ‘’confusing’’ reporting system of DOH.

‘’Dahil sa kabagalan ng pag-collate at pag-report ng data, at ngayon pati sa recovered cases, nalilito na ang publiko,’’ Hontiveros said in a statement. (Because of the slow pace of collating and reporting, to now include recovered cases, the public is confused.)

‘’Clear communication is what will earn the people's trust. The Department of Health (DOH) needs to fix their communication with the public. Kailangang malaman ng publiko kung ano ang totoong nangyayari every step of the way.  Kailangang magpaliwanag din ang DOH sa ni-report nilang ‘mass recovery’,’’ she pointed out. (The public wants to know what is happening every step of the way. The DOH should explain its report on ‘’mass recovery.’’ )

Hontiveros stressed that ‘’data is vital.’’

‘’People are anxious and tired. Huwag na nating dagdagan, DOH,’’ she added. (DOH, do not add more to the data.)

Senator Joel Villanueva stressed that the new ‘’mass recovery’’ data of the DOH ‘’gives a false sense of security.’’

The DOH explained that out of the 38,075 new recoveries, 37,166 were mild or asymptomatic cases recorded in June and July and re-tagged as recovered while 909 were newly reported by regional and epidemiological surveillance units for July 30.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire earlier said repeat tests would no longer be required for a COVID-19 patient to be tagged as a recovery.

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