Based on science? Gaps seen in government’s COVID-19 data

At Banana Island, Intramuros, Manila where community members do not only worry about their health but also their homes as they face threats of demolition. (Photo by Neil Ambion/Pinoy Weekly)

“The integrity of the data drops is particularly important given that no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself has said many times that the government’s decision on managing COVID-19 will be based on science.”

By JANESS ANN J. ELLAO
Bulatlat.com

MANILA — A study by the Resilience Institute of the University of the Philippines showed gaps in government data on COVID-19.

The UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team, which has been analyzing data from government, noted 45 erroneous data among the sex of patients, 75 in their age, and 516 for their residence.

One patient, too, reportedly died on April 24 but is no longer reported dead the following day, the policy note written by the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team read.

Three months since the first confirmed case in the country, the UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team said the government has yet to reconcile its data from the health department and the local government units. On its May 6 reporting, the local government’s total reported case was at 9,542 while the health department said it was at 10,004.

“The UP COVID-19 Pandemic Response Team believes that the availability of accurate, relevant, and timely data is a basic requirement in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Decisions depend on data, and any analysis is only as good as the data at hand,” the group said.

While the lapses may seem “small,” the UP Pandemic Response Team said patient case data is the “keystone for effective and insightful metrics and analysis.”

“The integrity of the data drops is particularly important given that no less than President Rodrigo Roa Duterte himself has said many times that the government’s decision on managing COVID-19 will be based on science,” the group said in their seven-page police note.

Pre-requisites for lifting the quarantine?

Paul Quintos, senior lecturer of the University of the Philippines’ National College of Public Administration, pointed out that the Philippine government should adhere to the requisites set by the World Health Organization in lifting the community quarantine.

Health workers said the Philippine government has not fulfilled any of the six criteria set by the World Health Organization as “prerequisites” in lifting lockdowns or quarantine measures currently in place.

Among those they listed are: (1) disease transmission is under control, (2) health systems are able to detect, test, isolate and trace every contact, (3) hotspot risk are minimized, (4) schools and workplaces have established preventive measures, (5) risk of importing new cases can be managed, and that (6) communities are fully educated, engaged, and empowered to live under a new normal.

Citizens’ Urgent Response to End COVID-19 (CURE-Covid) noted there has been no efficient mass testing in the country.

Read: Without mass testing, PH not flattening the curve – scientist

In a webinar hosted by CURE Covid, Joshua Danac of the Scientists Unite Against COVID-19 said that instead of flattening the curve, the country’s health system may actually be “reaching the ceiling” of its testing capacity.

Read: Metro Manila-centric COVID-19 testing centers present gaps in mass testing, says community doc

Quintos agreed with the government that the community quarantine indeed saved lives but only “if you compare it to doing nothing.”

“It is not enough,” he said, “the health and economic factors that make people vulnerable to the pandemic should be addressed.” (https://www.bulatlat.com)

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