The Department of Health (DOH) will report time-based tagging of recoveries of COVID-19 patients — or patients who have recovered but are not yet tagged as such by laboratories or local government units — on a weekly basis starting Sunday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that such initiative, dubbed Oplan Recovery, is needed since evidence have shown that mild and asymptomatic patients tend to recover in 14 days and those critical and severe cases need more than 20 days to recover.
This comes two weeks after DOH got flak for reporting over 37,000 recoveries in a single day using time-based recovery covering mild and asymptomatic cases.
Vergeire explained that such tagging of recoveries is evidence-based because asymptomatic patients who did not show symptoms for 14 days since the date of swab test are considered recovered.
On the other hand, Vergeire said that those mild COVID-19 cases who do not have symptoms anymore and have completed 14 days of isolation since the onset of illness or date of swab test are also considered recovered.
"We decided in DOH, together with our experts, na iyong mild and asymptomatic COVID-19 cases ang isasama sa Oplan Recovery because it will take so much time kung aantayin pa natin [lahat ng reporting units], baka ma mis-tag pa natin, mas mahirap," Vergeire said in an online forum.
"This coming Sunday, we are going to have another round of time-based tagging of recoveries. Every Sunday, gagawin na natin yan, para di tayo nag-ba-bulk ng annoucement."
Vergeire said such tagging is already being done in the United States, Europe and India.
"The US, Europe Center for Disease Control and India, they also implement this time-based tagging of recoveries, kasi di na tayo gumagamit ng test [to confirm recovery] kasi itong RT-PCR test ay napaka-sensitive. Kapag tinitest natin [ng RT-PCR] ang individuals [na mild and asymptomatic] after 14 days, nagte-test pa rin ng positive kahit we know that they are not infectious anymore," she said.
Vergeire then said that time-based tagging system of recoveries will be used not to avoid criticism but to ensure that COVID-19 cases data will not stoke unnecessary panic among the populace.
“Yung lahat ng mild and asymptomatic ngayon, basta 14 days and more, titignan namin ‘yung outcomes. 'Pag wala silang outcomes, we will tag them as recovered. Pero bago namin gawin 'yun, ang aming regional offices at LGUs, titignan muna nila kung iyong pasyente ay hindi patay, hindi naka-admit [sa ospital], at hindi active na kaso. May ganoong validation [muna],” Vergeire said.
“We are not avoiding criticism. We are accustomed to criticism. Ayaw lang natin na natatakot ang mga tao at para naiintindihan nila bakit ganun ang number of recoveries,” she added.
The Philippines has 147,526 COVID-19 cases so far. Of this number, 70,387 recovered while 2,426 died. The active cases is at 74,713. —KBK, GMA News