DOH explains gap in COVID-19 data
MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Health (DOH) explained that the “long and tedious” verification process as well as the lack of personnel ensuring the accuracy of data were among the reasons for the growing gap between the number of persons who had tested positive for the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) and the reported confirmed cases.
As of Saturday, the number of confirmed cases nationwide totaled 13,777 with the addition of 180 new cases, with a majority, or 114, from the National Capital Region. There are now 3,177 patients who have recovered from the severe respiratory disease, while the death toll has risen to 863.
Data released by the DOH on Friday night, however, showed that there were 20,264 individuals who had tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19.
This meant that 6,487 persons have yet to be included on the official list as the DOH still had to validate the information.The difference between the number of persons who tested positive for the virus and total confirmed cases has significantly grown since the start of the month when it was only at 2,325.
Expanded test capacity
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire acknowledged that as the country expanded its testing capacity and the number of cases rose, this affected their ability to immediately validate cases.
There are now a total 33 hospitals and laboratories capable of testing patients for COVID-19, up from five in the initial weeks of the pandemic in February. On Friday, a total 9,516 samples were processed by the accredited laboratories. The most number of tests done in a single day was on May 14 when 11,508 tests were conducted.
Health-care workers account for one out six infections. A total 2,341 medical front-liners have contracted the virus with 1,106 recovering while 31 have died.
And as it is, Vergeire said the country did not have enough disease surveillance officers (DSOs) assigned to various tasks such as monitoring cases, encoding a patient’s case investigation form (CIF) and uploading it into their information system.
She, however, did not disclose how many DSOs the country has.
In a Malacañang briefing early this month, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that each province should have at least one epidemiology and surveillance officer for every 100,000 population.
For example, Nueva Vizcaya, with a population of more than 480,000, should have at least five such epidemiologists.
Under the current setup, Vergeire said that validating the confirmed cases was a “long and tedious process” to ensure the accuracy of the information released to the public.
In a number of cases, she noted that DSOs have to individually call up patients, hospitals or testing laboratories especially when the CIFs sent to them were incomplete.
“While our DSOs make sure that the data they input in our information system is correct, they are also on the lookout for the possibility of duplications,” she said.
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