With the government still in the process of securing more test kits to screen potential carriers of the COVID-19 coronavirus, a Manila lawmaker on Thursday urged the Department of Health (DOH) to consider amending its testing guidelines so that senior citizens are to be given priority.

“Individuals 60 years and older should be prioritized as the greater percentage of those who succumb to and die from COVID-19 are senior citizens,” said House Minority Leader and Manila representative Benny Abante Jr.

“In Italy, which has the largest number of COVID-19 cases and deaths outside China, the average age of COVID-19 patients who have died is 81,” Abante added.

“This just shows how dangerous this virus is to the elderly.”

“This just shows how dangerous this virus is to the elderly. Now, there are 7.5 million senior citizens in the country and 850,000 live in Metro Manila. Efforts have to be made to detect COVID-19 early in senior citizens, because the earlier they are treated, the greater their chances of overcoming the disease.”

The Italian government recently reported 977 new cases and 168 more deaths, bringing its total tally to 10,149 cases––631 of which ended in deaths.

Data from the World Health Organization (WHO) also shows that a total of 4,291 patients have died from COVID-19, which has infected just over 100,000 people worldwide.

At present, the DOH guidelines require hospitals to check test patients for COVID-19 if they (1) have had a history of travel to countries or areas that have confirmed COVID-19 cases, (2) have had close contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, and (3) have severe acute respiratory infection or atypical pneumonia that requires hospitalization.

“My concern is that there is a possibility that senior citizens could have the symptoms of COVID-19, such as cough and fever, but if they have not been abroad or had contact with a confirmed case, they will not be tested,” said Abante.

“But if we wait till senior citizens have pneumonia or serious respiratory infections before testing them, it may be too late,” Abante added.


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