WHO: Test symptomatic patients first
MANILA, Philippines — Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patients showing symptoms are more likely to spread the infection hence the need to prioritize testing them, the World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday.
Those with pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) must be prioritized to maximize the Luzon-wide quarantine implemented given that there are limited testing kits in the country, WHO representative to the Philippines Rabindra Abeyasinghe explained.
“Almost 90 percent of the disease is transmitted by symptomatic people. We need to focus firstly on those symptomatic people to maximize the benefit of the enhanced community quarantine that is now being implemented,” Abeyasinghe said in a press briefing.
“In the situation that the Philippines is right now, our recommendations are that the limited testing that is available be used to strengthen the testing of people who are symptomatic with severe disease and also to use the testing to test people who have pneumonia and acute respiratory distress syndrome,” he added.
Apart from being able to manage these patients’ cases, Abiyangsinghe said this will also help in “contact tracing and isolating people at high-risk to limit for the transmission.”
According to the Department of Health (DOH) triage system, those who have a history of travel to countries with COVID-19, have had direct contact with existing confirmed cases in the country, and are showing symptoms of the disease will be prioritized for testing.
They are classified as persons under monitoring (PUM) or patients under investigation (PUI).
While some doctors reportedly suggest that loss of smell or taste could be an early sign of COVID-19 infection, Abeyasinghe clarified it is not yet confirmed whether these are indeed symptoms of the disease.
Instead, he said, “the focus should be on the key clinical features of this disease which is largely acute respiratory infection accompanied by fever and sore throat.”
The WHO official also noted that people who experience symptoms of the disease should subject themselves to physical distancing and isolation from their family members.
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