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DOH urged to disclose more data on COVID-19 patients to help assess, improve gov't response efforts


The assessment and improvement of the government's response efforts against coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) would be easier if the Department of Health (DOH) will release more patient-related data, according to Senator Joel Villanueva on Thursday.

"The success of the government’s drive to manage the impact of COVID-19 to the country is largely hinged on publicly-available data," Villanueva said in a statement.

He suggested that case-level data on mass testing could help analysts establish trends which could serve as a compass on the direction of the government's strategies to defeat the contagion.

Information on pre-existing conditions of COVID-19 patients prior to their admission at hospitals and the barangays where they came from would also be useful, Villanueva added.

Further, the senator said that funeral parlors may also be required to report and publicly disclose data on deaths to establish patterns and easily spot if there are surges in certain areas.

"A surge in the number of deaths in one area may tell us something about the spread of COVID. There are reports that some individuals were not accommodated in hospitals so they just die at home," Villanueva said.

"We need to capture those pieces of information and understand the nuances so we can help the government arrive at better decisions such as to whether there is a need to extend the quarantine beyond April 30," he added.

The lawmaker said there are a lot of volunteer researchers who would like to help in crafting effective strategies to manage the COVID-19 situation.

"If data isn’t shared with the public, our volunteer research teams will not be able to lend us a hand. They are willing to help. No need to pay for expensive consultants. There are volunteers," he said.

The DOH recently re-launched its online COVID-19 tracker. It features anonymized patient-level datasets which can be downloaded by the academic and research community.

The said dataset includes the age, sex, location, and hospital admission status of patients. The dates of the confirmation of the disease, recovery, or death are also indicated.

As of April 15, the Philippines has recorded a total of 5,453 COVID-19 cases, with 349 deaths and 353 recoveries. — Dona Magsino/RSJ, GMA News