More than half of COVID-19 fatalities got test results on day of or after death

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Apr 03 2020 06:09 PM | Updated as of Apr 03 2020 08:47 PM

MANILA — More than half or 52 of the 96 confirmed COVID-19 deaths in the Philippines as of Wednesday had their results released on the day or after their death, according to Department of Health (DOH) data analyzed by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.

“PH600, an 87-year-old man from Sultan Kudarat who died on March 14, was confirmed to have COVID-19 on March 24, or 10 days after death—the longest not only this week, but since the first death was recorded on Feb. 1,” the research group said.

Of the 96 fatalities as of April 1, 1 in 4 or 23 percent were reported more than a week after the patients’ actual death.

“The death of PH354, an 80-year-old woman from Rizal who died on March 13, was reported by the DOH as a COVID-19 fatality only on March 26, or nearly two weeks (13 days) after her death, the longest period between death and reporting,” the ABS-CBN IRG said.

The patient tested positive for COVID-19 7 days after her death.


The highest number of deaths recorded (not announced) in a single day as of Wednesday is 9 on March 17.

Although there are 136 fatalities as of Friday, ABS-CBN is using April 1 figures as the DOH has yet to release the case numbers and details of the last 40 deaths as of this writing. On Friday, the DOH attributed the “sudden spike in number of deaths” to the “late reporting of previous deaths.”

The same trend has been observed in the past weeks as backlogs have caused delays in the release of COVID-19 test results by as many as an average of 5 to 7 days, according to the DOH. 

However, the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine said it was able to bring down the processing time to 48 to 72 hours.


Majority (20 out of 22) of fatalities recorded this week are senior citizens.

Of the 22, 8 are in their 60s, 8 in their 70s and 4 in their 80s. The oldest fatality recorded this week is PH1372, an 89-year-old man from Caloocan City who died on March 28.

Meanwhile, 18 fatalities this week had pre-existing conditions. 

“This proportion is the same with those who died from Feb. 1 to March 25, when 81 percent (60 out of 74) of the fatalities had known medical conditions,” said the ABS-CBN IRG said.

Among pre-existing conditions of the patients who died were hypertension or a combination of other conditions including cardiac disease, cardiovascular disease, kidney or renal disease, and diabetes, among others. 

Men still account for the majority of the deaths with 16 out of 22 fatalities this week being male. This is comparable to previous weeks.