Rex Gatchalian says DOH should revisit patient grouping as asymptomatic PUMs test positive for coronavirus
MANILA, Philippines – Valenzuela City Mayor Rex Gatchalian has asked health authorities to review its new classification of possible and confirmed COVID-19 patients, as asymptomatic patients have tested positive for the coronavirus.
Gatchalian explained on Friday that at least seven Valenzuela residents who are asymptomatic — or those without COVID-19 symptoms but eventually tested positive — used to be under the patients under monitoring (PUM) group.
The PUM group is no longer being tracked and tested as per the Department of Health (DOH) new policy, which they said is in accordance with the World Health Organization (WHO) standards.
“We wanted to test pati ‘yong PUM, and lo and behold, ‘yong unang balik ng second result na kwarenta, lima ‘don ay PUM na nagpositive. Ngayon naman […] out of another set of 30, dalawa naman na PUM ang nagpositive,” Gatchalian said in a radio interview with DZMM.
(We wanted to test even the PUMs, and lo and behold, the first batch of the second results of 40 possible COVID-19 patients, five of those are PUMs that tested positive. Now, out of another set of 30, two PUMs turned positive.)
“Ang mas nababahala kasi kami dito, ‘yong category na sinabi nila na monitoring lang at ‘wag na nating i-swab, parang dapat they have to revisit that policy, sa nakikita namin dito dahil nga nauna kami sa localized mass testing, eh nagpa-positive ‘yong mga PUM,” he added.
(What is more worrisome here is that the category which they say is for monitoring only and not for swabbing, I think they have to revisit that policy because we can see that because we started localized mass testing first, there are PUMs who are positive.)
In the new DOH classification, there are three stages indicated: suspect cases, or former patients under investigation (PUIs) who have not gone through COVID-19 testing, probable or those whose test results are not confirmed, and confirmed positive patients.
According to Gatchalian, the PUMs who tested positive have been isolated even if they have yet to show symptoms. However, he insists that DOH should reconsider placing back PUMs on the list of possible COVID-19 patients, for health institutions to test them.
“Paulit-ulit ko ‘tong sasabihin kahit na tawagin na akong sirang plaka, tinanggal na ng DOH sa swabbing protocol itong mga PUM, in short, isang buong kategorya ang nawala sa mapa natin ng mga sina-swab,” the local chief noted.
(I will repeatedly say this even if they call me a broken record, DOH has removed its swabbing protocol for PUMs, in short, a whole category has been removed in our mapping for possible swabbing.)
“Eh kung dito sa Valenzuela ginawa namin ‘yong aggressive namin na testing nakita namin, sana tignan nila ulit ‘yong policy na ‘yon,” he added.
(Here in Valenzuela we only saw these incidents after doing an aggressive form of testing, we hope they would take a second look at that policy.)
As of now, there are 58 Valenzuela residents with the latest coronavirus strain, five of which have died while four have recovered. Nationwide, DOH said that there are now 5,878 COVID-19 cases — 387 of which have died while at least 487 recovered from the disease.
Worldwide, over 2.15 million individuals have been infected, while 145,054 have died from the disease and 537,663 have recovered from it.
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