Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said on Monday director of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) chief Doctor Celia Carlos is staying.
“Dr. (Celia) Carlos will remain. I corrected that already,” Duque said.
A report that the quarantined health chief signed Department Order 2020-1011 circulated on social media on Sunday. The document showed Duque supposedly appointing Health Assistant Secretary Nestor Santiago as officer-in-charge of RITM.
“He (Santiago) is really put there as an oversight… His job is to help Dr. Carlos to expand the number of testing centers,” Duque clarified.
RITM is the only facility in the country which processes the testing for coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19).
VIP testing for COVID-19
Many netizens hypothesized that the reason for replacing Carlos with Santiago as OIC is that Carlos refused to prioritize VIP patients in testing.
Several Senators, local officials, and other public servants came under fire for getting tested even if they do not have symptoms of the virus. DOH strictly implements that a patient should have symptoms to get tested.
Duque justified earlier the testing for the government officials. He said they are qualified under looser directions for testing that allows persons under investigation, even asymptomatic, to get tested.
DOH revised its rules for testing late February as the supply of testing kits get limited due to the growing number of persons under investigation for COVID-19.
The government is set to open five new testing centers across the country after around 100,000 donated testing kits finally arrived last weekend.