An infectious disease expert said Monday patients suffering from lingering symptoms of COVID-19 infection even after being discharged from the hospital might be experiencing remnants of the virus' symptoms but were no longer contagious.
According to Dr. Rontgene Solante, head of adult infectious diseases at the San Lazaro Hospital, these were usually patients who suffered from moderate to critical cases of the virus.
“We're still studying this, maybe these are just remnants of their symptoms. Of course we have what we call a recovery period, we can see theirs is longer but the virus in their body is no longer active, no longer contagious,” Solante said during an interview on ABS-CBN's Teleradyo.
Patients with remnants of virus symptoms do not need to undergo coronavirus testing again, Solante said.
Cases nearing 360,000
Meanwhile, the Philippines logged 2,638 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 359,169 in the country.
The DOH also announced 226 recoveries. This brings the total number of recoveries to 310,303.
The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks were NCR (555 or 29 percent), Region 4A (463 or 24 percent) and Region 6 (187 or 10 percent).
Top provinces by newly-announced cases are Quezon City, 141; Cavite, 140; Laguna, 128; Batangas, 120; and Rizal, 108.
The DOH also reported 26 new fatalities bringing the death toll to 6,675.
Over 10k health workers sick
In a related development, the DOH on Sunday logged 354 more health workers who contracted the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) over the past week, raising the total to 10,532 as of October 17.
The DOH, in its daily COVID-19 report, said total recoveries among health workers rose to 9,899 after 337 more recovered from the respiratory disease, while the death toll climbed to 63 with two new fatalities.
The other 569 medical workers are active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine.
The five medical professions with the highest number of COVID-19 cases are nurses with 3,682 infections, doctors with 1,858, nursing assistants with 796, medical technologists with 495, and midwives with 277 cases.
Over 500 other non-medical personnel such as utility workers, security guards, and administrative staff were also included in the tally.
Isko warns of second wave
In Manila, City Mayor Francisco “Isko Moreno” Domagoso warned Manila residents against a “second wave” of COVID-19 infections in the nation’s capital as another wave COVID-19 cases was being reported across the world.
While experts and analysts have acknowledged a “decline” of infected persons in the country, Domagoso said the public must remain vigilant at all times.
Citing reports from international news agencies, the Mayor said another wave of COVID-19 cases were being confirmed in the United States as well as Europe.
According to business newspaper The Financial Times, European businesses across the continent are bracing for the impact of a "second wave" as more positive cases are being reported and hospital occupancy is rising exponentially above levels compared to previous months.
Likewise, the Mayor stressed the importance of the local government’s inclusive approach to battling the COVID-19 pandemic, including its mass testing operations for both residents and non-residents of the City of Manila.
Antigen tests 'inaccurate'
Also on Monday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a negative COVID-19 test result using an antigen test was inaccurate and needed to be confirmed with the RT-PCR (swab) test.
Vergeire made the comments given that the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) has allowed outbound Filipinos to travel even if they only secured a negative COVID-19 test using an antigen test.
“For outbound Filipinos, we will be aligning the protocol with the receiving country, (meaning) whatever the requirements of the receiving country, if that receiving country requires a negative result from RT-PCR test, the outbound Filipinos have to comply with that,” Vergeire said.
She added: “We have to remember that when we interpret the antigen test results...when it is negative, it has to be confirmed by an RT-PCR test.”
The United States Center for Disease Control defines rapid antigen test as a COVID-19 test conducted using nasopharyngeal or nasal swab specimens and placed directly into a rapid test kit mixed with extraction buffer or reagent to detect the presence of a specific viral antigen, thus implying a current viral infection.
The DOH’s Omnibus Guidelines are explicit that antigen test is only recommended for people with COVID-19 symptoms, those in close contact with a positive COVID-19 individual in a community where there is an outbreak, and among health care workers routinely exposed to COVID-19 for faster turnaround time, said Vergeire.
Vergeire also confirmed that returning OFWs from countries with low to medium prevalence of COVID-19 as classified by World Health Organization would not be required to undergo RT-PCR test anymore but would only be checked for symptoms.
Vergeire, however, stressed that returning OFWs with no COVID-19 symptoms would still have to comply with the guidelines set by the local government unit of their residence, including an RT-PCR test.
ECQ in Ilagan City
A two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) has been placed in Ilagan City, Isabela amid a rise in COVID-19 cases, its mayor said Monday.
Mayor Jose Marie Diaz told Teleradyo the stricter lockdown was imposed starting Friday, Oct. 16, until Oct. 30 to curb the spread of the virus.
He attributed the increase of COVID-19 infections to local transmission and arrival of locally-stranded individuals (LSIs).
As of Friday, the city has recorded 331 COVID-19 cases in 55 of its 91 villages.
Under ECQ, a curfew will be imposed, nonessential movement is prohibited while public ransportation is suspended.
The city government will provide relief goods as residents are ordered to stay home, Diaz said.