DOH: Increase in COVID-19 cases among Filipino repatriates due to release of 4,000 lab results

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 23 2020 09:53 PM

MANILA — The number of new COVID-19 cases among repatriated Filipinos spiked this week after laboratory results were released in bulk, the Department of Health said.

“Sa nakaraang mga araw nakapaglabas po ang mga laboratoryo ng Philippine Red Cross ng mahigit na 4,000 na resulta na mga test ng mga OFWs (overseas Filipino workers). Kaya mukhang nagkaroon tayo ng spike o dumami ang bilang ng mga positibo sa ating mga repatriates,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario said during a televised briefing on Friday.

(In the past days, the laboratories of the Philippine Red Cross released more than 4,000 test results for OFWs. That’s why it seems the number of positive repatriates increased.)

According to DOH data analyzed by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group (IRG), there are 121 repatriated Filipinos who are positive for COVID-19 as of Friday, May 22. This accounts for 1% of the total confirmed cases as of the said date.

“The figures only reached double digits on May 17, and continued on May 18 and 20. Prior to this, the highest number of cases among repatriated Filipinos was on April 12, when 6 new cases were announced, and on April 29, when 5 new cases were announced,” ABS-CBN IRG said.

On May 20 alone, 44 new cases among repatriated Filipinos were recorded, a figure that is four times the daily average of 11 new cases from May 16 to 19.

Of the 121 Filipino repatriates who tested positive for COVID-19, 3 have recovered. No one has died and the others are all mild cases.

Seven out of 10 (73%) repatriates with COVID-19 are men.

The Philippines has been flying home citizens from all over the world since the start of the pandemic. Some were working on cruise ships that had to shut down because of the outbreak.

There was a number of problems faced by OFWs, though, when they arrived in the country. One of them is the unhygienic conditions of one of the quarantine hotels assigned to them.

Another is the delay in releasing test results, which apparently led some OFWs to leave facilities before they complete their required quarantine period.

Vergeire on Wednesday attributed the delay in the release of the test results to the lack of encoders assigned to a licensed laboratory. She assured the public that more encoders were being tapped to hasten the procedure.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque on Wednesday said that 13,000 migrant workers received negative test results, which meant they can finally go home to their families.

“That's a major development because that's almost half of the total number of OFWs waiting,” Roque said.