'It doesn't make sense': Public health consultant hits targeted COVID-19 testing

Jaehwa Bernardo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 16 2022 09:20 AM | Updated as of Jan 16 2022 09:35 AM

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MANILA — A public health and epidemiology consultant on Sunday criticized the government's new policy of prioritizing vulnerable sectors for COVID-19 tests, as officials adjust isolation and testing protocols in the face of rising infections.

Under new guidelines, individuals under A1 to A3 categories — or healthcare workers, senior citizens, and the immunocompromised — will be prioritized for COVID-19 testing.

But Carlo Lorenzo said it is senseless to prioritize such groups for COVID-19 testing since they are also the priority groups for vaccination against the respiratory illness.

"[It] doesn't make sense because the Department of Health prioritizes these people to be vaccinated, and then at the same time you prioritize them for testing," Lorenzo told ABS-CBN's TeleRadyo.

"Paano naman po iyong other... categories natin na hindi natin naaabot for the vaccine? So more likely that they'll get infected because they don't have the vaccine... And then hindi mo sila ipa-prioritize for testing, hindi nila malalaman 'yong result nila," said Lorenzo, adding that he supported calls for mass testing.

Lorenzo said it was also "too early" to implement the Department of Health's (DOH) new isolation and testing protocols.

"It's very early pa. I think maraming study pa ang puwedeng lumabas na puwedeng kontrahin ito[ng policies]," he said.

"Pero it's not really bad or let's give a chance doon sa changes na binigay ng Department of Health."

Under the new isolation guidelines, anyone with mild COVID-19 symptoms must isolate for 7 days, while those who are unvaccinated must do so for 10 days.

Moderate and severe cases are required to isolate for 10 and 21 days, respectively, regardless of their vaccination status.

In recent weeks, the Philippines has been reporting record-high new COVID-19 cases, the latest on Saturday at 39,004.

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