DOH Undersecretary Rosario Vergeire explained the mass recovery adjustment the agency made, which resulted in more than 37,000 recoveries of asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases in a single day is based on scientific evidence.
The mass recovery received criticisms from the public and even government officials, but Vergeire explained the 37,000 recoveries in one day is a result of the re-tagging of asymptomatic and mild COVID-19 cases as recovered. The new measure is part of the improved data harmonization among government agencies, she added.
DOH’s Department Memorandum 2020-0258 said asymptomatic and mild cases of COVID-19 should be tagged as recovered 14 days from onset of symptom or date of swab collection.
“Current recovery policies now show that at the 10th day of illness, the risk of transmitting the virus to other people is significantly reduced. This clinical recovery protocol is followed by the US CDC, European CDC, and India,” the DOH said in a statement.
“Iyong clinically recovered, meaning wala ka ng sintomas tulad ng lagnat. Kung sa ika-10th day iyong clinical recovery, you have to be in isolation for another four days to be tagged as recovered,” Vergeire said in a press conference.
“This is not an assumption. This is based on scientific evidence. Experts across the globe are backing this up, and this is being implemented in other countries also,” Vergeire added.
DOH explains mass recovery adjustment
She said the huge number of recoveries is expected, given that 90 percent of cases in the Philippines are mild and asymptomatic.
Conducting RT-PCR test is not an effective way to know if the patient already recovered, she added.
“Ang RT-PCR test basis for infection. Para po malaman kung may virus ang tao. Pero para po malaman kung recovered na, hindi natin yan gagamitin kasi napaka-sensitive po ng RT-PCR test. Mayroon nga po 55 days na, nagpapapositive pa rin, pero hindi na siya infectious,” Vergeire said.
“That is why we have this protocol [na hindi na gagamit ng RT-PCR test for recovery,” Vergeire added.
“This is the norm – to NOT get tested. As long as no symptoms arise during the 14 days quarantine, the patient is considered recovered,” said Dr. Beverly Ho, DOH Director for Promotion and Communication Service.
“Test for infection uses TEST-BASED strategy. Test for recovery uses SYMPTOM-BASED strategy,” she added.