The Department of Health (DOH) defended its decision to have some key government officials undergo testing for the coronavirus diseases 2019 (COVID-19) despite not showing any symptoms of the disease.

In a press briefing Friday, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that the decision was based on an earlier set of criteria by the health department which requires persons exposed to those confirmed to be affected with COVID-19, even though asymptomatic, to undergo laboratory testing for the virus.

“Noong ginawa po natin ang mga test na ito sa ating mga high level officials, ang atin pong testing or diagnostic criteria ay hindi pa nababago,” Vergeire said.

Based on the DOH’s March 11 algorithm for the triage of patients with possible COVID-19 infection, asymptomatic patients with an exposure history must undergo a 14-day quarantine.

“During the time ay nakapasok pa sila doon sa criteria natin. Ibig sabihin po kasi dati kahit walang sintomas basta may history of exposure, may history of travel for the past 14 days in a country with localized transmission ay tine-test natin,” she added.

Vergeire could not recall the exact date when the changes to the protocol were made.   (Rommel F. Lopez)