Market-goers at Barangay Quirino 3A in Project 3, Quezon City observe social distancing on March 22, 2020. The Health Department reported 73 new cases of COVID-19 bringing the total number of cases in the Philippines to 380 as of March 22, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
Duque: ‘VIPs’ directly requested to get tested for COVID-19
Ian Nicolas Cigaral ( - March 24, 2020 - 9:21am

MANILA, Philippines — Some politicians directly asked the country’s lone diagnostic lab for the new coronavirus to run tests to determine if they contracted the dreaded disease, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday.

This, amid simmering public anger over the reported special treatment given to some of the country’s prominent personalities despite limited number of test kits and as some patients under observation die without seeing their test results.

“There were direct request made to the RITM by the ‘VIP’. I have no details of each one of them that had requested for testing,” Duque told CNN Philippines, referring to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.

Senators, local officials and other public servants received backlash after they reportedly used their positions to get tested despite not showing any symptoms of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) — a strict qualification that other patients have to follow.

In the same television interview on Tuesday, Duque said the “VIPs” got tested after they qualified in the initial set of criteria imposed by the Health department, which allowed testing even for those with no symptoms of the infection. The testing protocols were later tightened so that only those manifesting symptoms will be accommodated, he explained.

Duque also said he was told that the RITM had to pause testing “for a while” to prevent an “epidemic” in laboratories amid the dramatic surge in number of patients, resulting in the delayed release of test results.

 “The actual underlying issue is the lack of testing. But that issue should be over precisely because we have 100,000 new test kits that have arrived last Saturday,” Duque said.

The government earlier announced it is set to open five new testing centers across the archipelago this week to accelerate COVID-19 diagnosis.

As of Monday afternoon, the Department of Health reported 82 new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, the highest daily jump for the country so far, which brought the national tally to 462. Of those, 33 died due to infection complications while 18 recovered.

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 4, 2020 - 4:09pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

April 4, 2020 - 4:09pm

The Department of Health reports 76 more local cases of the coronavirus disease 2019, bringing the official tally to 3,094 from the previous count of 3,018.

April 3, 2020 - 12:58pm

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. assures the public that they will shoulder the full cost of treatment for all COVID-19 patients until April 14, 2020.

"The reason for this accommodation window is due to the novelty and the wide range of severity of the disease in the country for which no existing case rate or package based on accepted protocols has yet been established," it says in a statement.

Philhealth says they will issue a new set of guidelines after the final protocol is established.

April 3, 2020 - 10:22am

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution calling for "international cooperation" and "multilateralism" in the fight against COVID-19, in the first text to come out of the international body since the pandemic's outbreak.

The resolution, which was approved by consensus, also stresses "the need for full respect for human rights" and that "there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic." — AFP

April 3, 2020 - 8:04am

The cruise ship Zaandam, which has dozens of ill passengers on board and was not allowed to dock in several South American countries, arrivsd Thursday in port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The liner was finally cleared for docking after long negotiations between Holland America Line, local and state officials, and the US Coast Guard, to ensure the safe disembarkation of the healthy — and the sick. — AFP

April 2, 2020 - 5:02pm

The Department of Health confirms 11 COVID-19 patients have died in the Philippines, raising the total number of fatalities to 107.

The Philippines also recorded 322 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 2,633.

As of Thursday afternoon, one additional patient recovered from the deadly virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 51.

  • Latest
  • Trending
Are you sure you want to log out?
Login is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

or sign in with