Social media is in an uproar after several key government officials allegedly received VIP treatment over COVID-19 test kits despite showing no symptoms for the virus.
The hashtags #NoToVIPTesting, #NoToVIPCovidTesting and #MassTestingNowPH became the site’s top trends as people called for proper prioritization for people with symptoms or patients under investigation (PUI).
Due to the shortage of kits, the Department of Health (DOH) previously made it clear that only symptomatic individuals should undergo tests for COVID-19. Those with an exposure history but are asymptomatic are subject to a 14-day quarantine.
But despite the policy, there is no shortage of news of politicians skipping the protocol. Senator Francis Tolentino shared in a now-deleted post that he tested negative for the virus in the comforts of his home. Cavite Governor Jonvic Remulla also apologized after admitting to ignoring the ‘protocol and triage algorithm set by the DOH’.
A report from Inquirer also reveals that at least 34 government officials and their families, despite showing no symptoms or ailments, demanded that their tests be prioritized over PUIs who do.
Staffers from the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) of the DOH claimed that a patient named Israel Bactol had her results delayed for four days due to the move. Bactol passed away on March 21.
The report is seemingly supported by a viral leak which suggests that testing for PUIs was halted for a day to ‘give way’ for the VIPs and their families. Said VIPs even demanded that their results be released within 24 hours.
END VIP TESTING FOR POLITICIANS AND THEIR FAMILIESSince February, the Department of Health’s covid testing protocol or…
Senate President Tito Sotto also called for all senators to be tested, despite the absence of symptoms, after Sen. Miguel Zubiri was revealed to be positive for the virus. Only senators Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros refused, citing the DOH’s protocol.
Internationally, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, whose wife tested positive for COVID-19, also refused as he is asymptomatic.
“It was explained to me (by medical professionals) that as long I do not show any symptoms at all, there is no value in being tested” – Prime Minister Trudeau #cdnpoli https://t.co/VVdFJpe7DB pic.twitter.com/54gcAuNU4x
— Mackenzie Gray (@Gray_Mackenzie) March 13, 2020
The DOH clarified last March 17 that the tests on government officials were done before the department finalized its decision tool, which now prioritizes the elderly and those with underlying conditions and symptoms.
Most recently, the DOH said that it might change its testing rules now that more COVID-19 kits are expected to be produced in the coming weeks. The University of the Philippines is set to launch its own FDA-approved versions, while donations from China and Alibaba founder Jack Ma will amount to around 150,000 kits.
But despite the promising influx of resources, social media is still calling for the priority for those who are truly in need.
— Sarah Elago (@sarahelago) March 22, 2020
#NOtoVIPTesting PUIs are dying before their results come in, some before test kits reach them. Prioritize the sick, the elderly, the vulnerable urban poor communities w COVID19 positive cases. And offer PUIs safe, comfortable quarantine facilities. #MassTestingNowPH
— inday espina varona (@indayevarona) March 22, 2020
Prioritize our frontline health workers, PUI/PUM, the communities with confirmed cases and the vulnerable sectors of the population, NOT the politicians and VIPs who are only concerned about their self-interest and not of the Filipino people.#MassTestingNowPH #NoToVIPTesting pic.twitter.com/69qRlivVT2
— DAKILA Philippines (@dakila_ph) March 22, 2020
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