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Duque clarifies RITM director was not replaced amid alleged VIP testing for COVID-19

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III on Monday clarified reports that the director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine was not replaced amid alleged VIP testing for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Interviewed on Dobol B sa News TV, Duque said the department order that has been issued was erroneous.

He clarified that Assistant Secretary Ernesto Santiago was designated only as RITM’s overseer on the accredited testing facilities, implying that he will not replace Dr. Celia Carlos as director.

“Nagkamali lang po doon sa department order. 'Yun ay kinorrect na. Dahil yung assistant secretary, Santiago,  ‘yun ang aming niluklok para maging overseer ng RITM para makatulong sa pagkumpas ng testing facilities,” Duque said.

“Dahil manipis din ang tao natin sa RITM, kailangan din natin ng makakatulong kay director Celia Carlos,” he added.

RITM is one of the seven testing facilities for COVID-19 in the country, according to Duque.

The hashtag #NoToVIPTesting trended on Twitter on Sunday night as netizens protested against politicians who were tested for COVID-19 calling out the disregard for the Department of Health’s (DOH) triage algorithm for the disease.

Netizens criticized politicians for skipping protocols on testing despite the limited number of test kits available in the country.

Twitter users also pushed hashtags #MassTestingNowPH and #CheckYourPrivilege amid reports of several politicians and government officials being tested despite not being eligible.

According to the DOH, only persons under investigation in severe to critical condition must undergo testing for COVID-19.

Asymptomatic patients with exposure history, meanwhile, should undergo a 14-day home quarantine

On Sunday, DOH confirmed 73 new cases of COVID-19 in the Philippines, bringing the total to 380 with 25 fatalities.—AOL, GMA News