Almost half of COVID-19 fatalities in PH got results on day of or after death

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 25 2020 03:07 PM

MANILA — Almost half of COVID-19 fatalities in the Philippines had test results delivered on the day of or after their deaths, based on Department of Health data analyzed by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.

Of the 35 fatalities reported by DOH as of March 24, 11 died before they were laboratory-confirmed for COVID-19 and another 6 died on the same day their test results were released, accounting for 49 percent.

Most of the delayed test results were announced after March 20, DOH data show.

Almost half of COVID-19 fatalities in PH got results on day of or after death 1

The DOH had earlier explained that the Philippines did not have enough test kits for COVID-19.

In early March, the health department received flak after admitting it only had 2,000 test kits left for suspected COVID-19 patients. It earlier said that the country is prepared for the outbreak.

The DOH had also said that testing was limited to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine in Muntinlupa. While it is possible to get test results in just a few hours, health officials explained that batch testing, processing and the transportation of samples result in 24- to 48-hours turnaround time. 

It was only recently that four other subnational laboratories, including one in Cebu and another in Davao, were accredited by the DOH. The country also received 100,000 test kits from China, and 3,000 others from Singapore.


Of the 11 patients who were confirmed COVID-19 positive only after their death, 4 were announced a day later. These are PH201 who was from Lanao del Sur, PH281 from Mandaluyong City, PH304 from Bulacan, PH351 from San Juan City.

PH89, who was from Pampanga, was confirmed as a COVID-19 case two days after his death.

PH226 from Quezon City, PH279 from San Juan City, and PH349 from Parañaque City were confirmed postive 4 days after their deaths.

PH205, who was also from San Juan City, had her positive test result 5 days after she died. The family of PH239 from Cavite, meanwhile, had to wait 6 days after his death to confirm he acquired the disease.

The longest wait, so far, is for PH328, a 74-year-old Filipino male from Quezon City, who was confirmed as a COVID-19 case 8 days after his death.

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Meanwhile, as already observed, majority or 71% of the fatalities are senior citizens or 60 years and older. “This is despite the fact that seniors comprise only about 34% of COVID-19 patients whose ages are known,” the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group said.

The median age of COVID-19 fatalities is 67. The youngest patient who died was 34 years old and the oldest was 89 years old.

Most of them died from severe respiratory ailments, although the DOH only released cause-of-death information for only 33 out of the 35 cases.

“Of the 33, most died of pneumonia and acute respiratory distress and failure, among other causes. One patient died of cardiac arrest,” the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group said.

Acute respiratory distress syndrome is a kind of lung damage where fluid fills the lungs. It is often observed in severe cases of COVID-19.


DOH data showed that 71 percent or 25 out of the 35 fatalities had known medical conditions. One had asthma and the rest had hypertension, diabetes, or kidney or renal disease or a combination of these.