MANILA – The triage protocols that determine who should be prioritized in testing for the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) may change once more diagnostic testing kits become available in the country, Malacañang said late Wednesday night.
Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles made this remark amid calls for mass Covid-19 diagnostic testing and criticism that politicians and personalities were allowed to undergo Covid-19 testing despite being asymptomatic.
“With the arrival of new kits either purchased or donated then there is a chance that the IATF (Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases) may change the protocols or update the protocols,” he said in a press briefing in Malacañang.
He did not elaborate on what kind of changes could be made once the diagnostic testing kits arrive.
Based on the Department of Health’s (DOH) triage system, those who are showing symptoms of the disease, have traveled to countries infected with Covid-19, and who had contact with a confirmed Covid-19 case will be prioritized for testing.
These individuals will immediately be classified as either a person under monitoring (PUM) or a patient under investigation (PUI).
A PUM refers to one with no symptoms but has had a history of travel to China in the past 14 days while a PUI refers to one with symptoms such as fever, cold, and cough and has a history of travel to China in the past 14 days.
The Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) is the main facility conducting diagnostic tests for Covid-19.
Other hospitals which will start Covid-19 testing this week are the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in Cebu City), Southern Philippines Medical Center in Davao City, Baguio General Hospital and Medical Center in Benguet, and San Lazaro Hospital in Manila.
Currently, the University of the Philippines-Manila’s National Institutes of Health (NIH) is in the process of reproducing Covid-19 testing kits.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and countries such as China and South Korea have also committed to donating diagnostic testing kits.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez, meanwhile, assured that the supply of face masks will soon be replenished after a Bataan-based manufacturer agreed to supply five million face masks from March until April.
“We are also supplying DOH and the public by talking to the supplier based here in Bataan and we have made an arrangement that they will supply Philippines 2 million face masks for the rest of March and another 3 million for April,” he said.
Earlier, he said that this manufacturer was able to produce 200,0000 face masks per day amid the huge demand.
“We will have another request to increase the preposition and the allotment for the Philippines since we recognize that even these numbers are not enough to provide for all Filipinos,” he said.
As of Wednesday, the DOH said there are 202 confirmed cases of Covid-19 in the country with 17 deaths and seven cases of recovery.
The country is currently under a state of public health emergency and a state of calamity due to the highly-infectious disease which originated from Wuhan, China.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has declared the Covid-19 outbreak a pandemic which means a worldwide spread of a new disease.
Fever, cough, and shortness of breath are among the symptoms of Covid-19. In more severe cases, the infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome and sometimes death. (PNA)