MANILA — Contracting the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is not a death sentence for senior citizens and those with pre-existing medical conditions, an ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group analysis of Department of Health data showed.
As of Wednesday, 26 out of the 636 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country have recovered, according to the DOH.
Of this number, 42 percent have existing medical conditions.
“Eight of them have hypertension, just like many of those who succumbed to the disease,” the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group said.
The other three have asthma, diabetes, or a combination of these.
More than a third at 35 percent of survivors, meanwhile, are senior citizens.
Those ages 50 and above (including senior citizens) account for 46 percent of recoveries, while more than half (54 percent) are ages 49 and below.
“Septuagenarians (those in their 70s) account for the next highest number of recoveries among all age groups, with five recoveries (19 percent), next only to those in their 30s,” the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group said.
Of the five septuagenarians, four have hypertension and diabetes.
Out of the 26 patients who recovered, 23 percent or 6 are senior citizens with pre-existing medical conditions.
And like most of the 636 COVID-19 patients, more than half of the recoveries (15 patients or 58 percent) are male.
The DOH had earlier said it was studying the profiles and the medical care given to the recoveries to see best practices. There is no cure yet for COVID-19. Patients are often made to take vitamins and antibiotics that are used to treat other illnesses.
Many of the recovered patients in the Philippines first experienced symptoms from late February to early March.
According to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group, the recovered patients took nearly three weeks on average to recover. This starts on the first day they experience their symptoms until they recover and are discharged from the hospital.
PH143 (the 143rd COVID-19 patient), a 73-year-old male, was discharged eight days after he first experienced symptoms, the shortest time of recovery among the 26.
Meanwhile, PH10, a 57-year old male with asthma and diabetes, took 32 days from the date of onset of symptoms until he was discharged from the hospital. He first experienced symptoms on February 20 but was only admitted in the hospital on March 7. He tested positive for COVID-19 on March 8 and stayed in the hospital for a total of 16 days.
Of those with complete dates of hospital admission, 15 were confined within a week of the onset of their symptoms.
Only two were asymptomatic — PH25 and PH26, both repatriates from the Diamond Princess cruise ship. They stayed behind at the New Clark City quarantine facility but were referred to a hospital afterwards.
With the spike of COVID-19 cases and the limited number of test kits, the Department of Health changed its protocol on releasing patients.
Instead of requiring two negative COVID-19 tests, the Department of Health now allows patients to do home quarantine once they are “clinically asymptomatic.” This means their blood test and X-ray results show they have recovered.
“They will continue the quarantine for 14 days,” said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire during the DOH briefing on Wednesday. “After 14 days, they need to be tested again.”
She explained that this helps free up beds in congested hospitals.
A number of patients who have recovered but have not yet been declared recovered by the DOH have already shared their experience on social media.
Among them is PH4, a 48-year-old male patient who became the first Filipino COVID-19 case in the country. He was discharged from the hospital and is still waiting for his test results.
ABS-CBN News asked the DOH about his case and Vergeire said they will look into it.
The DOH already said that the laboratories are still working on backlog tests and that the country would be able to see the actual increase or decrease in the number of cases in the coming days.