DOH justifies COVID-19 testing of asymptomatic gov't officials | Inquirer News

DOH justifies COVID-19 testing of asymptomatic gov’t officials

/ 10:15 AM March 23, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The testing of government officials for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) most of whom showed no symptoms, is “justifiable”, the Department of Health (DOH) said Monday, citing the need to “preserve” certain high-ranking officials.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire issued the statement as the DOH drew flak for supposedly prioritizing the testing of some government officials over persons under investigations (PUIs) for COVID-19.


Vergeire pointed out that some government officials were tested due to the prior DOH guidelines allowing those individuals who have “exposure” to the disease and recent travel history to get tested.

“Most of them pumasok sa criteria namin nung umpisa natin na may decision boluntaryo kung may exposure sila o naka travel sila kahit na walang sintomas. So they were tested. Pasok naman sila and it was justifiable,” Vergeire said in an interview on dzBB.


The Health official likewise assured that government officials are not given preferential treatment over the PUIs amid the COVID-19 crisis.

“Meron pa rin naman na mga official na nagre-request pa rin na mag-test sila and pinagbibigyan namin na kuhanan sila ng specimen pero nakapila po sila,” she added.

Nonetheless, Vergeire conceded that there are some key government officials who need to be tested due to national security reasons.

“We need to preserve high people in government na specific lang. I’m not saying everybody. Kaya po may mga ganun,” she explained.

The Inquirer earlier reported that at least 34 government officials have allegedly demanded that the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) of the DOH prioritize their diagnostic tests for COVID-19, including that of their asymptomatic family members, while PUIs displaying real symptoms waited to be tested for the disease.

This also in stark contrast of the standing DOH guidelines stating that patients should not be tested if he or she is asymptomatic.

#NoToVIPTesting trended on Twitter on Sunday night as netizens railed against the so-called “VIP testing” involving some politicians and government officials.

As of Monday morning, there are 380 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country, 25 of whom have died while 15 have recovered.


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