DOH clears backlog, says no more ‘late’ COVID-19 cases

June 1 ------ The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday said that starting Monday, June 1, no more “late” COVID-19 cases will be reported until the remaining certified laboratories that have not yet submitted their complete line lists do so. The DOH said it has cleared all case validation backlogs of 27 laboratories that submitted complete line lists and one facility that submitted a partial line list. There are currently 42 licensed COVID-19 testing centers in operation.

“The surge of 'late' cases is attributed to the [DOH Epidemiology Bureau's] aggressive validation of recently-submitted line lists. Each line list contains all test results conducted since the beginning of the laboratory’s operation. The validation process eliminates possible duplication… while also ensuring that all test results have been transmitted to DOH,” the department said in a statement. Health Secretary Francisco Duque III urged the remaining 14 laboratories to submit their complete line lists to the DOH.

“Starting June 1, no more late cases will be reported until the remaining operational laboratories submit their complete line lists,” the department said. “These line lists are necessary for the government to provide accurate and timely information not only to our policymakers, but also to the public,” Duque added. The DOH earlier said it would break down new COVID-19 cases into two: “fresh” cases or those whose test results were released to the patient within three days from reporting time, and “late” cases or results released four days ago or more.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the change was made to avoid stoking fear when the DOH reports a high number of new cases, such as when 539 new infections were announced hours before the government eased quarantine restrictions over Metro Manila and other high-risk areas. The new classification of cases was met with doubt and confusion, with Vice President Leni Robredo questioning the logic behind the change.