RITM says Rep. Yap negative for COVID-19, admits ‘clerical oversight’
MANILA, Philippines – The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) has clarified that House appropriations committee chair Rep. Eric Yap, who was initially reported to have contracted COVID-19, does not have the disease.
According to RITM’s statement on Friday, the erroneous report that Yap has tested positive was due to a “clerical oversight”, where Yap’s results fell victim to an encoding error.
“We wish to publicly apologize to Cong. Eric Go Yap of ACT-CIS Partylist for forwarding a report of his COVID-19 results that displayed a clerical oversight. Rep. Yap remains negative of COVID-19,” RITM said on its Facebook page.
“His results are by no means a false positive. This isolated incident was brought about by an encoding error that was discovered late last night by the Molecular Biology Laboratory (MBL) of the Department of Health-Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (DOH-RITM),” they added.
Yap announced last Wednesday that he has the latest coronavirus strain, and advised people who were in direct contact with him — including Malacañang and House of Representative officials — to do self-quarantine.
RITM explained that the error was found by reviewing the test results that they have forwarded. They also insisted that the incident was an isolated one, and was not the case for other test results.
Despite the error, RITM maintains that their testing process is accurate, and adherent to the standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).
“We maintain that our testing process is compliant with the World Health Organization (WHO) protocol, and that our results remain accurate despite this incident. The polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing procedure still stands as the gold standard in detecting the genetic sequence of the SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes COVID-19,” RITM explained.
“For the assurance of the public, we have reviewed all results we have previously forwarded and we affirm that this incident remains isolated. We have also added another layer of verification for all succeeding reports we will submit,” the health office said. “We promise that this, and other associated incidents, will never happen again.”
RITM said that the employee who made the error — part of an augmentation staff outside of their regular employees — would be reprimanded.
“Again, we profusely and sincerely apologize to Hon. Eric Go Yap for the unnecessary discomfort this incident has caused. The individual responsible for the incident was enlisted as an augmentation staff from outside the regular workforce of the laboratory. Said employee is already being dealt with administratively,” RITM said.
As of Friday, the entire Luzon is still under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) due to the rising COVID-19 cases. Health officials said that there are 803 patients infected, 54 of which have already died while at least 31 have recovered.
Around the world, over 524,000 COVID-19 cases have been recorded, while 23,592 patients have died, and another 111,100 patients have recovered.
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