Issues affect tally of Covid-19 cases
The Department of Health (DOH) said four issues are increasing the gap between the number of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases and COVID-positive individuals.
According to the DOH, a person may be considered a “confirmed case” of COVID-19 if they were tested at a national or subnational reference laboratory, or at a DOH-certified laboratory testing facility, regardless whether the person shows clinical signs and symptoms of COVID-19.
In a live briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the following issues lead to the delay in the reporting of official cases:
- Increased testing capacity leading to more cases for validation
- Lack of disease surveillance officers (DSO)
- Possibility of duplication cases based on similar names
- Possibility of duplication based on retesting of individual
Vergeire noted the importance of disease surveillance officers in the case validation process.
DSOs are in charge of monitoring cases, encoding case investigation forms (CIF), and uploading data on the system.
"Madalas po ay hindi kumpleto ang mga CIF na dumadating sa ating mga DSO kaya't kinakailangan nila balikan o tawagan ang mga pasyente individually o kaya naman ang mga ospital o ang mga testing laboratories," she said.
Further, the increasing testing capacity of the country is also leading to an increase in the number of cases in need of validation and encoding.
Vergeire said names such as "Juan dela Cruz and Juan de la Cruz" also pose problems as these may only refer to one person and have been registered as different individuals which require further validation.
"Ang mga ganitong bahagyang kaibahan sa mga pangalan ay hindi lang paminsan-minsan nangyayari. Marami pong beses ito nae-encounter ng mga officers na gumagawa ng validation kaya tumatagal ang proseso," she said.
Vergeire also explained that repeat tests are not specified in the CIF, so each case must be verified in the system, further adding delay to the process.
"Lahat po ng apat na issues na ipinaliwanag namin sa inyo ngayong hapon ay nararanasan ng ating Epidemilogy Bureau sa pagva-validate ng information," Vergeire said.
"Kaya ito po talaga ang rason kung bakit tumataas nang tumataas ang ating backlog sa case encoding na nagiging dahilan ng patuloy na paglayo ng agwat sa pagitan ng officially reported cases at positibong kaso," she added.
According to Vergeire, the data from various sources are consolidated by the Epidemilogy Bureau and thoroughly validated for accurate information.
"Sa bawat step po ng flow na iyan, hindi po mawawala ang risk na maaring magkaroon ng error sa information and data dahil sa iba't ibang uncontrollable factors. Kaya kapag mayroong nakitang issue o problema, kailangang bumalik sa mas mababang level upang ma-confirm at maayos ang datos," she said.
However, she assured that the Health Department is working on solving the issues.
"Itong mga problema po'ng ito ay patuloy natin pinagtutuunan ng pansin at ginagawan ng solusyon upang mapabilis po ang pagva-validate ng cases at ma-close ang gap between official case counts and lab outputs," Vergeire said.
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