WHO has no proof yet that asymptomatic COVID-19 cases are contagious – Duque
MANILA, Philippines — Citing the World Health Organization (WHO), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told senators on Wednesday that there was still no evidence that asymptomatic cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were contagious.
During the Senate hearing on updates regarding the government’s COVID-19 response, Sen. Nancy Binay asked Duque about how the government would trace “silent spreaders,” given that certain criteria would have to be followed before an individual could undergo testing.
“There’s also what’s called ‘positive but no exposure.‘ Or they don’t fall under the four criteria. So how could be track these spreaders that we call asymptomatic,” Binay asked Duque in Filipino.
Asymptomatic patients, according to the Department of Health (DOH), refer to those who show no symptoms of COVID-19, such as difficulty in breathing, dry cough, or cold.
“To be honest, we will have a hard time. That’s why we have criteria regarding who would be tested. That’s because, first of all, our testing capacity is limited. There’s no country that does one-to-one testing for all its citizens,” Duque said in Filipino.
Under the testing guidelines of the DOH, the following persons will be subjected to COVID-19 tests:
- All symptomatic individuals
- Individuals arriving from overseas
- All close contacts of COVID-19 patients (contact tracing)
- Those who tested positive in rapid antibody test results
The health chief, meanwhile, said municipal or city health officers would have to coordinate with barangays in monitoring potential virus carriers.
“The only thing we can do is conduct surveillance at the local level of those with influenza-like illness and also severe acute respiratory infection. We will look for the municipal health officers, city health officers in the barangays. They are coordinating with barangay health workers to identify who these patients are,” Duque said.
Still, Binay stressed that there were people with COVID-19 without symptoms.
“You’re afraid that they might infect others, right?” Duque asked the senator.
In response, Binay said: “Yes, because aren’t they the ones who are called silent spreaders, these people who are asymptomatic?”
But Duque said: “The WHO, up to now, has no report or evidence showing that those who are asymptomatic are contagious. That’s the WHO.”
As of Wednesday afternoon, Philippines health officials have confirmed 13,221 COVID-19 cases in the country. Of the number, 2,932 have so far recovered while 842 have died.
The Philippines has so far tested over 240,000 individuals. The government is eyeing to test a total of two million Filipinos with the goal of increasing the country’s testing capacity to 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day by June.
The Inquirer Foundation supports our healthcare frontliners and is still accepting cash donations to be deposited at Banco de Oro (BDO) current account #007960018860 or donate through PayMaya using this link .
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.