Politicians and public officials in the Philippines being tested for COVID-19 despite not showing any symptoms of the illness has sparked public outrage. All this despite the country’s struggle to test the public, with some coronavirus positive patients being turned away by hospitals.
A list of authorities reportedly having “VIP treatment” and taking coronavirus tests without exposure to the virus and not showing any symptoms has been leaked online. The whistle-blower, reportedly from the country’s Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) which processes all COVID-19 tests, revealed several officials and their family members have skipped protocol and a very long queue to be readily tested, the South China Morning Post reported.
Another source said these “VIPs” demanded that health workers administer the tests at their home. They also received their test results within 24 hours, while the rest of the masses wait 3 to 6 days for their COVID-19 test results to be released. Some patients have died before their results come out or even be tested.
The list has since been shared on social media with Filipinos crying foul and asking that these officials be held responsible.
Included in the list are several senators, cabinet members and their spouses. Former first lady Imelda Marcos, her daughter senator Imee Marcos, President Rodrigo Duterte, his wife and daughter were also tested.
Cavite governor Jonvic Remulla has also admitted to being tested and apologized for skipping the “protocol and triage algorithm set by the Department of Health.”
On March 22, Quezon City mayor Joy Belmonte has confirmed that at least three COVID-19 positive patients have been turned away by hospitals and were asked to stay at home as hospitals reach their limits.
“In the past, when you test positive, they pick you up, they take you in into a facility. But what happens now is that when you test positive, you’re just told that you just go home and you self-quarantine,” Belmonte told Rappler.
The country is also facing difficulties with testing as more and more citizens show signs of the coronavirus. The government has admitted that test kits are currently scarce.
According to data from Worldometer, as of March 25, 09:04 GMT, the Philippines has 636 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 38 deaths.
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