March 24: Philippines COVID-19 cases soar to 501

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The Department of Health on Tuesday morning said there are 39 new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said there are now 501 COVID-19 cases in the country.

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Meanwhile, there is also an additional recovered patient, bringing the total number of recoveries to 19.

The number of fatalities remains at 33.

DOH said on its regular briefing the number of COVID-19 cases in the Philippines may still go up later in the day.

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Also read: Asymptomatic gov’t officials and their family get VIP testing while PUIs die waiting


Duque admits VIP COVID-19 testing is true

Department of Health (DOH) Secretary Francisco Duque III admitted Tuesday that some VIP directly requested to the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for COVID-19 testing.

“The request for testing that was happening, there were direct requests made to the RITM by the VIP,” Duque said in an interview on CNN, Philippines.

“So I have no details of each one of them that had requested for testing, suffice it to say that indeed some of them had really fit in the initial criteria for testing,” he added.

However, Duque explained that the VIPs met DOH’s prior guidelines on COVID-19 testing, which are: persons with exposure to coronavirus positive patients and those who had recent travel to countries with local transmission.

“For those VIPs, so to speak, who had requested that they be tested, they actually fit in the initial set of criteria that would allow them for testing,” Duque said.

Duque said the criteria for testing could change again with the arrival of more test kits.

“There will have to be a recalibration of those testing criteria because now we have more. We have 100,000 testing kits from China that have already been evaluated with the standards of RITM,” he said.

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