DOH denies issuing directive to hospitals to conceal the number of COVID-19 deaths

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The Department of Health (DOH) on Saturday has denied issuing a directive ordering hospitals to conceal the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) deaths.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III issued the statement in response to a deleted post by GMA News’ Arnold Clavio.

Clavio claimed that a hospital in Metro Manila received such orders from the DOH.

“The DOH did NOT and will NEVER issue a directive for hospitals to conceal the number of COVID-19 deaths,” Duque said on Twitter.

DOH authorities on Saturday had reported a total number of 4,428 confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide, a total of 247 fatalities and 157 recoveries.

Clavio also said that the bodies in a hospital began to pile up in the hallways and the hospital had called for more body bags.

In a separate statement, the DOH encouraged local government units to designate a crematorium for COVID-19 fatalities.

“Mr. Clavio disclosed to me the hospital allegedly involved in this issue and we will investigate IMMEDIATELY,” Duque said.

In a separate Instagram post, Clavio thanked those who shared the information.

“May mga naghahanap po ng pruweba ng aking ibinahagi sa inyo. Ilang government official na rin po ang nakaalam na ng impormasyon na ito at umaasa tayo na agad silang kikilos at gagawa ng aksyon,” Clavio said.

“Ipagdasal po natin ang mga kaluluwa ng mga nasawi sa COVID19 na hindi na napapabilang sa istatistika. They deserve pa rin ng huling respeto,” he added.

A social media post also circulated calling for donations for cadaver bags allegedly because of a shortage at East Avenue Medical Center.

A hospital official said the center was not told to hold back tallying the fatalities.

“That rumor I really don’t know how it started and how it escalated. But as far as East Avenue was concerned, we received no order or directive from the DOH or the local government unit of Quezon City to stop recording and reporting death-related to COVID,” Dr. Alfonso G Nuñez III, OIC Medical Center Chief II, said.

Shortly after Duque’s post, the DOH issued a statement.

“There have been circulating reports that a hospital based in Metro Manila was allegedly instructed to stop counting COVID-19 deaths. DOH clarifies it has never issued any order to stop the census or reporting of deaths, or any case related to COVID-19 to any health facility,” it said.

It also called on the public “to exercise discretion when sharing information, to fact-check and verify first through DOH’s official channels and legitimate sources.”

The written statement also explained that the DOH is already coordinating with the Department of the Interior and Local Government and local government units for the proper management of the dead.

It mentioned Pasig City and Quezon City as having designated crematoriums and for other LGUs to follow their example.

East Avenue Medical Center also denied reports that it had run out of body bags.

“We have cadaver bags available. At least 30 cadaver bags available. And another 100 coming in next week,” Nuñez said.

The rumors of the non-reporting of COVID-19 fatalities were linked to a social media post calling for donors or suppliers of body bags for EAMC.

But Nuñez explained that the person whose number was mentioned in the post was a trainee.

“Maybe she just wanted to ask for anybody who can give or refer possible companies to whom we can buy more,” he said.

“But we have cadaver bags. This is supplied by Department of Health and other bags were procured by us.”/Stacy Ang

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