DOH to include health workers with mild symptoms in its testing protocol

Bonz Magsambol
Department of Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire says they are amending their COVID-19 testing protocol to include health workers who are at the front lines in the fight against the coronavirus disease

FRONTLINERS. Quezon City General Hospital health workers prepare the isolation tent for person under investigation with suspected CONVID-19, amid the rise of cases of the virus in the country on Tuesday, March 10, 2020. Photo by Darren Langit

MANILA, Philippines – Health workers who are experiencing mild symptoms will now be tested for the coronavirus disease. 

In a press briefing on Tuesday, March 31, Department of Health (DOH) Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are amending their COVID-19 testing protocol to include health workers since they are part of the “vulnerable” population. 

According to Vergeire, DOH has received phone calls from health workers saying they were exhibiting symptoms, but were not prioritized for testing.

“Pangalagaan po natin ang ating healthcare workers. Kasama na po sila ngayon sa ating protocol kung sinu-sino ang ating puwedeng i-test. Kahit mild lang ang simtomas ng ating mga health workers kasama na po sila,” Vergeire said. 

(Let’s take care of our health workers. They are now included in our testing protocol. Even if they have mild symptoms, they are now included.)

In its testing protocol released on March 16, only patients with severe symptoms of the disease, the elderly, and pregnant women would be prioritized for testing. (READ: When should you get tested for coronavirus?)

The DOH had been criticized for allegedly prioritizing government officials for COVID-19 testing even if they didn’t show symptoms of the disease, at a time when patients experiencing severe symptoms were made to wait in hospitals due to the limited number of test kits. (READ: VIP treatment in coronavirus testing not a policy, says DOH)

In recent weeks, with the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPEs) and masks, some health facilities, volunteers, and groups have improvised and donated PPEs for medical frontliners. After calls for support, the DOH announced on Monday, March 30, that it has bought P1.8 billion worth of PPEs for the heath workers.

The Philippine Medical Association said 12 Filipino doctors have died in the country from the coronavirus as of Sunday, March 29. 

As of Tuesday, the Philippines has 2,084 confirmed cases of coronavirus, with 88 deaths and 49 recoeveries. – 

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.