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HomeCOVID-19Name game? “Fresh” vs “Late” Cases

Name game? “Fresh” vs “Late” Cases

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The Health Department had been changing labels related to the COVID-19 since the pandemic broke out, switching from the use of terms like Persons Under Monitoring and Persons Under Investigation to probable and suspected.

Lately, it also reported on its website a change in the labelling cases as “fresh” and “late.”

The department said it aims to provide a better understanding of both the pandemic and the national response.

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Fresh vs. Late Cases

According to the DOH, “fresh cases” refer to test results that came out and were validated by the Epidemiology Bureau in the last three days. “Late cases” are those whose results came out four days ago or more but were just recently confirmed.

Health Undersecretary Dr. Maria Rosario Singh-Vergeire stated that the increase in cases reported was a result of the aggressive efforts to catch up with the backlog. Personally these labels don’t make any difference, a late case and a fresh case are both positive cases, and if the efforts are about chasing backlogs then it’s been a month since these reporting was utilized and these nomenclature is still used, which means, the backlogs are nowhere near being caught up to.

Case in point. For 1,000 cases if the the late cases are 800 and the fresh cases are 200, it’s still 1,000 new cases reported. Upon reversing it, if the late cases are 200 and the fresh cases are 800, it’s still 1, 000 new cases reported.

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There is really no difference between the two as both scenarios mean there are 1000 new cases confirmed and neither one is less of a threat than the other.

Deaths, Case Doubling Time, Critical Care Utilization Rate

Outside of the number of confirmed cases, Vergeire explained that there are three other indicators that provide a clearer picture of the Philippine COVID-19 situation: deaths, case doubling time, and critical care utilization rate.

Mortality due to COVID-19 has been on the decline since late March, assuring the DOH that the healthcare sector’s treatment of the illness has been progressively improving.

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The most deaths the Philippines has reported on a single day was on April 12 at 50.

Some opine that while it’s true that we haven’t clocked in deaths that big ever since, the trend for the Philippine’s deaths is not exactly going down but more wavy since the Philippines sometimes clock in fewer than 10 deaths per day and then almost 20 or more.

This trend continued from April to June. So far this July we are five days in and our most deaths clocked is at 10.

Case doubling time, or the time it takes for the number of cases to increase twofold, provides policy makers an idea of whether or not the transmission of the virus is slowing down. Simply put, its how many days it takes for the number of coronavirus cases, hospitalizations or deaths to double.

The shorter the time frame, the steeper the curve and the faster the growth. A doubling time of five is better than a doubling time of three.

For example for 100 cases a doubling time of five means that it will take five days for it to reach 200 cases. While a doubling time of three it takes only three days.

An increased doubling time means we are doing much better.

The critical care utilization rate is a figure that indicates the capacity of the healthcare system to handle severe cases, as seen in how much of the intensive care facilities is currently used, and how much is available for use. As much as possible, ideally, we also want these numbers low because that means not a lot of people are severe cases and there are resources available to spare.

Continued Following of Health Guidelines

The number of coronavirus disease 2019 (CoviD-19) cases in the Philippines as of July 5, 2020 is 44, 254, with 11,942 recoveries and 1,297 deaths.

National and International Health authorities continue to enforce the general population that the same prevention methods must be applied at all costs. Wearing of facemasks, proper hand washing, avoiding touching the face and social distancing.

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Julius D. Mariveles
Julius D. Mariveles
An amateur cook who has a mean version of humba, the author has recently tried to make mole negra, the Mexican sauce he learned by watching shows of master chef Rick Bayless. A journalist since 19, he has worked in the newsrooms of radio, local papers, and Manila-based news organizations. A stroke survivor, he now serves as executive editor of DNX.
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