DOH’s late release of COVID-19 tally, report on 3-day zero deaths draw concerns

September 28, 2021 - 3:43 PM
Patients are watched over by relatives and hospital aides inside the COVID-19 emergency room of the government hospital National Kidney and Transplant Institute, which has declared overcapacity amid rising coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infections in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, April 26, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

The Department of Health once again published the COVID-19 case bulletin late.

It just released the COVID-19 case bulletin at 9:30 p.m. on Monday, nearly six hours delay from their scheduled 4 to 5 p.m. posting.

The health agency earlier advised the public that its COVID-19 statistics will be released at 6 p.m.

When the DOH posted the case bulletin at 6:30 p.m., it immediately retracted the numbers, citing a few edits and revisions to be done on their report.

“We will retract the released Case Bulletin because we have few edits and quick revisions. Please wait for the new release. Thank you!” DOH said as quoted by ABS-CBN’s Edson Guido on Twitter.

Some Filipinos who were waiting for the COVID-19 daily tally could not help but express their frustration over the delay.

“Delayed na naman ang case bulletin,” one Twitter user said.

“Na-overcook daw yung unang batch kaya nagluto ulit,” another user wrote.

Some online users also questioned the revision in COVID-19 data.

For several days, DOH reports have been delayed and no new deaths reported on September 24, 25, & 26 because of technical problems. Quick edits and revisions? Pati COVID data edited and revised?” a Twitter user asked.

As of September 27, the country has 18,449 additional infections which bring the total to 2,509,177 cases.

There are also 21,811 recoveries which sum up to 2,313,412.

Moreover, there are 93 new COVID-19-related deaths which amount to 37,494.

It should be noted that this was also the first in three days that the DOH reported COVID-19 deaths.

For three consecutive days from September 24 to September 26, DOH did not record additional COVID-19 deaths amid the constant five-digit new cases in the past months.

“No deaths were reported today due to technical issues in COVIDKaya,” the DOH said Sunday.

COVIDKaya is the digital platform that stores data from all confirmed COVID-19 cases and their close contacts in the Philippines.

A Twitter user was suspicious of the timing of the technical issues.

“I have a feeling na sus ‘yung timing ng ‘technical issues in COVIDKaya.’ The new deaths in recent days have consistently been in triple digits,” he cited.

Twitter user @88DoubleDragon, also an internist, likewise aired his observation and quipped about the DOH’s failure to report the COVID-19 deaths for days.

“Binigyan kasi ng idea ni Dr. YOU KNOW WHO kaya ayan nagbabadyang every three days na ang data. Sinimulan na nga nila sa mortalities,” the user wrote.

He was referring to Dr. Willie Ong, social media personality and vice-presidential aspirant, who earlier suggested releasing COVID-19 tally per three days.

This, however, will not make a change in the country’s worsening pandemic situation.

“Gagawin natin siguro every three days lang (ang release). Hindi ko kayo iistress,” Ong said in a briefing. 

Ong is the running mate of Manila Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso, a presidential aspirant, in the 2022 national elections.

They announced their candidacy last September 22.

Meanwhile, statistician Peter Cayton, raised the data purge and revisions in DOH’s tagging of cases, recoveries and deaths.

“There is a data crisis in DOH as well. The continuing data problem on deaths is a travesty. So many cases have been purged off the COVID census, and many recoveries have been revised as active, died, or purged out of the census,” Cayton wrote.

On Tuesday, the DOH reported 102 additional deaths, bringing the total death tally to 37,596.

“In yesterday’s case bulletin, DOH said that they will report backlog deaths in separate advisories because of the COVIDKaya technical issue,” Guido said.