COVID-19 testing for all patients proposed

TWO members of the House of Representatives on Sunday urged the Department of Health (DoH) to subject all patients, including those who died of pneumonia to coronavirus disease-19 (COVID-19) test.

Anakalusugan party-list Rep. Mike Defensor and Quezon City Rep. Precious Hipolito Castelo made the appeal in the wake of reports that many poor patients are dying of severe pneumonia and are being buried without undergoing COVID-19 test.

“If we do not test them, we will never know if they are positive for the fast-spreading coronavirus disease. It’s good if they do not have the virus. But what if they have it?” asked Defensor, a vice chairman of the House committee on health.

Defensor, chairman of the House committee on public accounts, said if a dead patient had the virus and is not checked, those who had contact with him or her were exposed to the disease without knowing it and they might be spreading it to others.

“That is why it is important that we test all suspected carriers, even the dead. If they had it, we can do contact tracing and isolate those who have been exposed. Obviously, we cannot do that if we don’t do the test,” said Defensor.

Echoing Defensor’s appeal, Castelo said she received information that some poor patients in Quezon City had died of pneumonia and were not subjected to COVID-19 test.

She urged the city government and barangay officials to closely monitor those with pneumonia and coronavirus disease symptoms like severe cough and fever.

“We need to intervene. We need to be cautious. We need to quarantine the family. We need to do contact tracing. We have to do all those to stop the cycle of infection. Otherwise, we might be the next Italy,” said Castelo, a vice chairperson of the House committee on Metro Manila development.

Castelo said testing pneumonia patients for COVID-19 would also guide the authorities and their families on burial protocols if they die. She said the protocols require immediate cremation without the presence of relatives if the patient dies.