MANILA, Philippines – The Department of Health (DOH) said on Saturday, April 11, it is investigating allegations that a hospital in Metro Manila was told not to report COVID-19 deaths, and denied giving such an order.
This, after social media posts by GMA News broadcaster Arnold Clavio went viral, showing what appeared to be screen grabs of a conversation involving a health worker who cited a mayor saying government hospitals were told not to give a census of COVID-19 fatalities.
In the exchange, the health worker said there were "10 deaths every day" from COVID-19, and fatalities were so many that the hospital ran out of cadaver bags, and bodies were being left lying in hallways.
In a post on his Facebook page, which he echoed on his Instagram page. Clavio said the images of the conversation were given to him by frontliners at a hospital in Metro Manila, and several government officials have been informed about the situation.
“We would like to clarify that DOH has never issued any order to stop the census or reporting of deaths, or any case related to COVID-19 to any health facility,” the DOH said in a statement released late Saturday afternoon.
All hospitals and health centers are mandated to report on consultations or admissions that fit the COVID-19 case definitions, and the status of those cases, the agency added.
“We have spoken with Mr. Clavio on this matter, and DOH is currently investigating the allegations made. We will provide updates as soon as we can,” the DOH said.
“We urge the public to exercise discretion when sharing information, to fact-check and verify first through DOH’s official channels and legitimate sources,” it added.
In his posts, Clavio said he shared the allegations because he wanted the government to be transparent about reporting the status of the coronavirus pandemic in the Philippines.
He cited China, where the novel coronavirus originated. He said the outbreak went out of hand because the Chinese government had not been forthright in reporting the situation.
“Maging tapat para 'di kumalat. Naghihintay kami, [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque. Ano ang totoong Sitwasyon sa Pilipinas?” Clavio said. (Be truthful so it won’t spread. We are waiting, Secretary Duque. What is the real situation in the Philippines?)
Clavio’s Facebook page “akosiigan” was deactivated apparently because of this post, he said in his Instagram account with the same name.
Earlier on Saturday, April 11, the DOH reported 233 new confirmed COVID-19 cases, bringing the national total to 4,428 confirmed cases. Twenty-six new recorded fatalities brought the death toll to 247, while 157 patients have recovered. – Rappler.com
JC Gotinga often reports about the West Philippine Sea, the communist insurgency, and terrorism as he covers national defense and security for Rappler. He enjoys telling stories about his hometown, Pasig City. JC has worked with Al Jazeera, CNN Philippines, News5, and CBN Asia.