Drilon fears DOH underreporting COVID-19 cases



Senate Minority Leader Franklin M. Drilon questioned the basis of the Department of Health (DOH) for disaggregating cases in the reporting of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19), as he expressed fears that the health department may have been underreporting COVID-19 cases all along.

“What is the basis for disaggregating cases and how does that affect our interpretation of flattening of the curve? Has the inter-agency task force (IATF) considered these figures in its decision to shift to general community quarantine (GCQ?” asked Drilon in a statement on Monday.

Drilon asked the questions as Metro Manila and others parts of the country transition today to general community quarantine.

Drilon said there are several complaints not only from the public but also from laboratories themselves who are confused with the new classification of cases into “fresh” and “late” cases.

“If the DOH could not provide logical explanations for this, except for putting the blame on laboratories, then there is a reason to believe that it is underreporting COVID-19 cases. That is not only counter-productive because hiding the real data could be fatal,” Drilon said, as he cited the differences between the way South Korea and China reported their COVID-19 cases.

DOH reported on Sunday 862 new infection, 16 fresh cases and 846 late cases bringint the total to 18,086.

“The experiences all over the world show that a great deal of transparency spells a huge difference in winning the battle against this pandemic,” said Drilon, adding: “They likewise tell us that hiding the truth would only make things worse.”

“One may learn a thing or two about transparency in the way South Korea and China handle the pandemic,” the minority leader said.

“South Korea has showed transparency since day one. They did not hide the real data from their people. They dealt with the pandemic with complete transparency and because of this, coupled with the government’s decisiveness, they are able to contain the virus,” Drilon said.

This was not the case in China, Drilon said.

“On the other hand, it cannot be denied that the China experience has shown that the lack of transparency could be fatal,” he stressed.

“Honesty is the best policy here. Manipulating the data will not bring us anywhere,” Drilon said.

Magpakatotoo tayo rito,” he told DOH.

Drilon also said it is becoming a habit of the DOH to use hospitals and laboratories as “scapegoats” whenever it is criticized for its shortcomings.

He said it is unfair for hospitals and laboratories to always take the blame for DOH.

“They are being thrown under the bus. The DOH claims that the laboratories report to them late, but I have received reports that their turnaround time is actually good,” Drilon said.

“Where is the bottleneck in the reporting of cases that results in ‘late’ cases? Is it really the laboratories reporting late or DOH unable to validate the cases in a timely manner,” he said./Stacy Ang

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