'We are being fooled': Villanueva questions DOH COVID-19 numbers

Senator Joel Villanueva questioned the Department of Health's (DOH) reporting of coronavirus case numbers in the Philippines, after the agency reported nearly 4,000 new cases and over 38,000 new recoveries on Thursday, July 30.

"'Yung reporting style ng DOH, mas malala pa sa pabago-bago ng panahon (The DOH's reporting style is worse than changes in the weather)," Villanueva said in a message to reporters on Thursday night.

He added the hashtags #DOHunreliable and #WeAreBeingFooled.

The senator added, "38,000 recoveries in one day only shows there's a problem with data interpretation. Worse, it's giving people a false sense of security. Instead of mass testing, it became mass recovery."

"Mas kapani-paniwala pa ngayon 'yung mga palabas sa perya kaysa sa mga binibigay sa'ting reports (Carnival shows are more believable than the reports we're given)," Villanueva added.

The DOH reported a record 3,954 new confirmed coronavirus cases on Thursday, bringing the total case count to 89,374.

The agency also reported a record 38,089 new recoveries in a single day. It brought the country's total recovery count to 65,078.

This brought the number of active COVID-19 cases in the Philippines from 56,528 on Wednesday, July 29, down to 22,327 on Thursday.

There were 23 new fatalities reported, bringing the death toll to 1,983.

The DOH attributed the sharp increases in the number of confirmed cases and recoveries to "enhanced data reconciliation efforts" between the national and local governments.

The agency started a "COVID-19 Surveillance and Quick Action Unit" in July, which validates and reconciles local and national data through its "CovidKaya" platform.

This resulted in "faster and more accurate tagging of health statutes, particularly on deaths and recoveries," the DOH said on Thursday.

The DOH "retagged" or reclassified as "recovered" mild and asymptomatic cases whose conditions do not deteriorate 14 days since the onset of symptoms, or since they were swab-tested for the virus.

This reclassification added some 3,000 to the number of "recoveries" identified from July 12 to 14.

On July 15, some 5,000 recoveries were added to the tally through the same method of reclassification.

The DOH said it will report "reconciliations of data on recoveries" every 15 days. – Rappler.com

JC Gotinga

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.

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