Last week, many readers were confused by the large number of COVID-19 positive cases reported by the Department Health, with some labelled as "fresh," and others as "late."
The Department of Health (DOH) said yesterday it will no longer classify COVID-19 reports as ‘late’ until the remaining certified COVID-19 testing laboratories submit their complete line lists.
The DOH has completed its validation backlogs of the 27 laboratories with complete line lists and one that submitted a partial list, GMA News reported on Sunday, May 31.
“Starting June 1, no more late cases will be reported until the remaining operational laboratories submit their complete line lists,” the Health Department said.
“These line lists are necessary for the government to provide accurate and timely information not only to our policymakers but also to the public,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III added.
According to the DOH statement, the surge of “late” cases is due to the DOH Epidemiology Bureau’s aggressive validation of recently submitted line lists.
“Each line list contains all test results conducted since the beginning of the laboratory’s operation. The validation process eliminates possible duplication… while also ensuring that all test results have been transmitted to the DOH,” the statement read.
Duque urged the remaining 14 licensed COVID-19 laboratories to submit their complete line lists to the Health Department.
For the past few days, the DOH’s case reports classified COVID-19 cases as “fresh” or “late.”
Fresh cases are those whose test results were released to the patient within three days from the day it was reported to the public. Late cases, on the other hand, are cases wherein results were released four days or more before it was announced to the public.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained in DOH’s press conference on May Saturday, May 30, that the new classification of cases was made “to avoid stoking fear when the DOH reports a high number of new cases.” The government starts easing quarantine restrictions over Metro Manila and other high-risk areas on June 1.
On Sunday, May 31, the DOH reported a total of 862 cases. There were 846 late cases and 16 fresh cases based on the daily accomplishment reports submitted by 15 out of 41 COVID-19 testing laboratories. The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country is now at 18, 086, with 3,909 recoveries and 957 deaths.
Vice President Robredo, in her weekly radio show, questioned the new classification of cases, which may lead to more confusion. She also renewed her call for the DOH to speed up its accreditation of COVID-19 testing centers.
“Kung bibilis-bilisan, baka hindi na kailangan nitong bagong classification… na dapat as soon as possible, maibigay na iyong results,” Robredo said.
As of May 29, the country has 37 polymerase chain reaction (PCR) facilities and 11 GeneXpert laboratories. There are 130 other institutions and laboratories that are undergoing the accreditation process.