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PRC: DOH to blame for virus spread
“We welcome the DOH authorization, given the urgency of the situation, where more positive COVID cases are recorded in our country. They may have been dangerously increasing community transmission of the disease. We have devised a mechanism for releasing positive results to the individuals concerned without compromising the necessary protocols,” Gordon said in a statement yesterday.
Boy Santos, file

PRC: DOH to blame for virus spread

Neil Jayson Servallos (The Philippine Star) - August 24, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines —The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) has attributed the spread of COVID-19 in communities and households to the Department of Health (DOH)’s belated release of results to patients who tested positive for the novel coronavirus.

The PRC volunteered last week to help the government release results to positive patients as it cited its records that showed at least one-third of over 15,700 confirmed cases since July 30 have not yet been informed of their status as confirmed patients, which might have caused the spread of the virus in communities.

In the latest development, however, the organization said it would start releasing positive results to patients who had themselves tested for COVID-19 in its facilities after getting the nod from the DOH.

“We welcome the DOH authorization, given the urgency of the situation, where more positive COVID cases are recorded in our country. They may have been dangerously increasing community transmission of the disease. We have devised a mechanism for releasing positive results to the individuals concerned without compromising the necessary protocols,” Gordon said in a statement yesterday.

In a letter sent to the PRC, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III confirmed that the DOH has approved of the organization’s proposal as it found no objections to the suggested mechanism in releasing results.

“The DOH notes and poses no objection to the proposed mechanism of the PRC that the positive results shall initially be released to the DOH prior to individuals to trigger appropriate surveillance efforts of the national government and concerned local governments,” Duque wrote.

The PRC accounts for a huge chunk of the country’s testing capacity with several of its molecular labs nationwide being able to conduct 40,000 tests daily. As of Aug. 15, the PRC had conducted a total of 484,151 tests, making up at least 22 percent of 2,083,806 cumulative samples tested nationwide since April 14.

The positive results that return from processing, however, cannot be immediately released to the patient by the organization as they have to send these to the DOH first due to protocols. The organization said positive patients receive the information late, which also delays their isolation.

The senator also said that due to sensitivity of the issue, results will be released to individuals along with advice on what steps to follow.

He said PRC doctors would also talk to the individuals and they would be given psychosocial support.

“Once the Bayanihan to Recover As One Act or Bayanihan 2 is signed into law and implemented, we can direct them to hospitals and quarantine facilities they can go to because of a provision that establishes a National Referral System for COVID-19, which will be jointly developed by the DOH and the PRC,” he added.

In May, government data presented at a Senate hearing showed that the majority of COVID-19 tests conducted in the country were carried out by private organizations and laboratories. Tests conducted by the PRC at the time accounted for 45 percent and 21 percent were from private laboratories.

As of now, the PRC has several bio-molecular labs nationwide and has been testing 40,000 patients daily. It most recently opened a testing center in Mandaue City in Cebu that has reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction machines (RT-PCR) capable of running a combined total of 4,000 tests per day.

Aside from this, it also has a molecular lab in Batangas that could administer 4,000 tests daily; in its former national headquarters in Port Area, Manila that can run 14,000 tests; in Subic and Clark that can administer 6,000 tests; and two in its headquarters in Mandaluyong that can finish 8,000 tests a day.

The PRC also has molecular laboratories in Batangas, Bacolod and Zamboanga.

The organization said its molecular laboratories in Cagayan de Oro, Surigao, Isabela, Albay, Quezon Lucena, Cotabato and Laguna are in different stages of completion.

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