Some 4,000 COVID-19 deaths may be underreported in the Philippines, says former gov’t adviser

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 02 2020 09:53 AM

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MANILA - Around 4,000 deaths due to COVID-19 in the Philippines may not have been included in the government's official tally as many people severely ill with the disease have succumbed to it without actually getting tested, a former adviser of the task force against the pandemic said Sunday.

“Ang tingin ko niyan, underreported ang deaths natin siguro ng mga 4,000. Kasi ang dami po sa emergency room, maging sa hospital namin, at sa Philippine General Hospital at many other hospitals, that the patients would only come to the hospital, siyempre dahil wala silang pera, malala na po,” Dr. Tony Leachon, who was special adviser of the COVID-19 task force until June 17, told ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.

(My view is there are around 4,000 underreported deaths. Many of those who go to emergency rooms in our hospital, at the Philippine General Hospital and in many other hospitals, the patients would only come to the hospital already in serious condition because, of course, they don’t have money.)

“At hindi na sila nare-record. Pero pag-Xray nila, the typical COVID-19 pneumonia ho iyon. Kaya lang hindi natin sila maire-report,” he added.

(So, they are not recorded. But when they go through Xray test, it would show the patients have COVID-19 pneumonia. But again, we can’t report them [as COVID-19 deaths].)

“May mga dumadating kasi sa hospital na severe na, wala na tayong pagkakataon na kunan pa sila ng swab test. At sila’y namamatay na lang dun. Eh, ang pag-diagnose natin, eh base sa tinatawag natin na swab test,” Leachon said.

(Some arrive in the hospital already severely infected, and we no longer have the chance to conduct a swab test on them. And they die there. But our diagnosis is based on the swab test.)

The health department’s cumulative tally of COVID-19 fatalities stood at 2,039 on Saturday, Aug. 1, out of the country’s 98,232 confirmed cases of coronavirus infections.

Leachon cited the most recent study by researchers from the University of the Philippines that projects the death toll to reach around 4,000 by the end of August, out of 150,000 COVID-19 cases.

Leachon said the Philippines has one of the fastest “acceleration” of reported cases of the disease in Southeast Asia, and is in fact the No. 1 in the number of active cases.

Along with Indonesia, which has recorded 109,936 cases as of Saturday, the Philippines, among Southeast Asian countries, has not flattened its curve, he said, describing the status as similar to a “step ladder.”

Leachon shares the concern on not overwhelming the country’s health care system by taking appropriate measures against the pandemic.