DOH: Safeguards in place for time-based tagging of COVID-19 recoveries

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 14 2020 02:46 PM

MANILA — Following the single-day announcement of 38,000 recovered COVID-19 patients two weeks ago, the Department of Health is again set to make another “mass recovery adjustment” on Sunday. But the Department said it has safeguards in place to make sure that the right people are being tagged as recovered.

This means Filipinos can expect another spike in the number of recoveries due to the so-called “time-based tagging” of COVID-19 patients.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained again on Friday that the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test is too sensitive in detecting the COVID-19 virus, which is why they stopped requiring it for recovered patients.

“So kapag tinetest ang individuals (When individuals are being tested) even after 14 days they are still positive but we know they are non-infectious anymore,” she said during a virtual briefing.

Because of this, the DOH is instead tagging asymptomatic and mild case patients as recovered after 14 days of quarantine.

“So we have the clinical criteria plus the completion of 14 days isolation from the onset of illness or from the time of the patient’s swabbing,” Vergeire said. “Pag tiningnan namin yung outcomes, wala silang outcome we will tag them as recovered already.”

(If we look at their file and there is no outcome, we will tag them as recovered already.)

“But the safeguard would be, bago namin gawin yan ang aming regional offices through their specific LGUs nililinis nila yan or tinitignan nila kung yung pasyente ba ay talagang active sya or hindi sya patay, hindi sya naka-admit at hindi na active yung kaso. So may ganun tayo na validation before we can do that,” she added.

(But the safeguard would be, before we tag, our regional offices through their specific LGUs check if the patients are not active cases, not dead, or admitted to a hospital. So we have that kind of validation before we do the tagging.)

Vergeire said the department will announce additional recoveries based on the time-based tagging protocol every Sunday.

The time-based tagging first started in June as part of the DOH’s data reconciliation efforts.

The World Health Organization also confirmed that it gave out a similar guideline based on the reports of other countries.

Vergeire said they had experts study the median length of a COVID-19 patient’s illness.

And the WHO found out that mild and asymptomatic cases stay “active” or sick for only 14 days.

They do not include severe and critical cases in the mass recovery adjustment because of their longer recovery period.