The Department of Health has stopped posting detailed reports of new novel coronavirus (COVID-19) patients as numbers continue to soar day by day. On Wednesday, April 8, special assistant to Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, Dr. Beverly Ho, explained the reason behind its sudden halt.
According to her, the DOH sources its data from case investigation forms (CIF) and the laboratory information system which collects all the information of confirmed COVID-19 patients and PUIs, such as name, age, travel history, contacts, and more. These are the responsibility of hospitals and those heading the contact tracing.
However, Dr. Ho said that these forms come to them either as hard copies or incomplete, making it difficult for them to collate the data.
“If the occupation field is left blank, we will never know from our database how many health workers were actually affected,” Ho said. “If the questions on travel history are not filled up, we cannot say how many for sure of those who were affected got it from travel or were just locally transmitted.”
She added that the DOH’s Epidemiology Bureau has to call up the hospital if ever there is missing information. It’s also why DOH’s reports on COVID-19 fatalities always declare an “unknown travel or exposure history.”
Currently, employees and partners of the agency are encoding 10,000 CIF paper forms, leading some to work from home to reduce encoding backlogs.
Dr. Ho said that they aim to have zero backlogs by Sunday, April 12. They will be offline until then to focus on doing that. They are hoping that the consolidated information will finally help paint “a more accurate picture of our cases.”
She also announced that starting next week, CIF forms and lab results must be submitted to the DOH online.
As of writing, there are 3,870 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines with 182 deaths and 96 recoveries. President Duterte has extended the Luzon lockdown until April 30, 2020.
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