Duque: VIPs made requests to be tested for COVID-19
MANILA, Philippines — Some “VIPs” made direct requests to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) to be tested for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted Tuesday.
“The request for testing that was happening, there were direct requests made to the RITM by the VIP, Duque said in an interview on CNN Philippines.
“So I have no details of each one of them that had requested for testing, suffice it to say that indeed some of them had really fit in the initial criteria for testing,” he added.
Duque, however, noted that the “VIPs” met the prior DOH guidelines on who should be tested – individuals with exposure to COVID-19-positive patients and those who had recent travel to countries with local transmission.
“For those VIPs, so to speak, who had requested that they be tested, they actually fit in the initial set of criteria that would allow them for testing,” Duque said.
At least 34 government officials, mostly asymptomatic, have allegedly demanded the RITM to prioritize their tests, including their family members, for COVID-19.
Duque explained that when the DOH came up with a new criteria, this limited testing to those who have symptoms and are belonging to the vulnerable group or senior citizens and those with preexisting medical conditions.
But the criteria might change again with the arrival of more test kits, Duque said.
“There will have to be a recalibration of those testing criteria because now we have more. We have 100,000 testing kits from China that have already been evaluated with the standards of RITM,” Duque said.
Over 100,000 testing kits have been received by the Philippine government from China over the weekend.
The country is still expecting more testing kits from Singapore and South Korea. This is on top of the testing kits developed by the University of the Philippines National Institute of Health (UP-NIH).
Health officials have so far confirmed 462 cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines and 33 deaths.
The virus causes mild symptoms such as fever and cough for most people but can cause serious illness such as pneumonia for others, especially older adults and people with existing health problems.
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