Data cleanup, backlogged cases cause delay in DOH’s coronavirus updates

The health department hires more data encoders to help catch up with the testing backlog. Its Central Visayas office stops providing daily updates.

CORONAVIRUS UPDATES. File photo of Department of Health Secretary Francisco Duque III holding a press conference on March 4, 2020. File photo by Mara Cepeda/Rappler

CEBU CITY, the Philippines – For the first time, the Department of Health (DOH) missed its usual 4 pm briefing on the latest coronavirus cases on Friday, May 29.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told reporters in a message that the delay was caused by the need for the DOH to validate numbers. She said they were going to release the data at around 9 pm.

Vergeire explained in a news briefing earlier on Friday that the DOH would start identifying the number of “fresh” or new cases, as well as those that came from the testing backlog. This means they would start indicating the dates on the counts they release to differentiate between new cases and delayed results.

This is happening at a time when the DOH has been reporting sudden increases in the number of COVID-19 cases and when quarantine measures in Metro Manila and other parts of the country will be eased starting June 1.

For the past 4 days, the DOH recorded 284, 350, 380, and 539 new confirmed cases, respectively – higher than the daily average of some 200 new cases recorded in recent weeks.

In a statement released Friday night, Vergeire said that the sudden spike in the daily reported cases was a result of increased testing and the DOH’s “aggressive efforts to catch up on the testing backlog.”

The DOH said they had to hire more encoders to help clear the backlog.

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