Loay dad seeks faster swab test results

Loay Mayor Hilario Ayuban (4th from left) discusses his letter to the governor seeking to expedite the swab test results of patients who died in the hospitals so that families can know if the burial of their dead who are probable or suspected of COVID can be delayed. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

TAGBILARAN CITY, Bohol, April 6 (PIA) -- Loay Mayor Atty. Hilario Ayuban, in a Facebook post, disclosed that he personally witnessed the pain of the next of kin of a resident in his hometown who died and was buried as per protocol as the swab test results did not come out on time.

"These survivors experienced traumatic stress, fear, anxiety, sadness and anger which magnified their grief," he said.

"Such is because they knew their patient was not sick of COVID. Even if the patient was extracted a swab to ascertain that fact he is COVID-free, and as a matter of admitting hospital’s protocol," he continued.

Before the swab test results could come out from the Reverse Transcription Polymerases Chain Reaction, the patient died.

As a probable case of COVID-19 pending the test results, the deceased was immediately wrapped, sealed, and buried within 12 hours according to Bohol Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) protocols.

The Loay case is also similar to many cases all over Bohol since the pandemic hit as the admitting hospitals have implemented the swab test as a matter of admission protocol.

“I find it heartless to bury immediately the body of the deceased with pending results,” Ayuban wrote. 

In some areas, even vehicular accident victims getting to hospitals are swabbed and if these victims die before the test results come out, they are considered COVID probable and a burial in less than 12 hours is implemented.

“While I understand the intention of the protocol adopted by the Bohol Inter Agency Task Force relative to the immediate burial (within 12 hours) of the deceased COVID-19 suspect, the availability of a local RT PCR in the province, I believe we can have an RT-PCR test result in less than 12 hours,” the mayor wrote. 

In areas where the swab samples are sent to third party clinics for analysis, the turnaround results could take time.

"But Bohol has two of the needed RT-PCR laboratories, which can significantly cut the turnaround time for the samples to return to the patient," the mayor added.

Ayuban noted that a fast-tracked RT-PCR test result could ensure the dignity and respect of the dead.

“Accepting death related to COVID-19 has been complicated, not to be able to say goodbye to their loved one. All these factors make bereavement a much greater challenge and call for extra consideration,” the mayor said in his letter to the governor dated March 26, 2021.

The mayor of Loay town has requested Gov. Arthur Yap to implement measures to prioritize and expedite the running of the swab samples to have a faster RT-PCR result of deceased COVID-19 suspect or probable cases. 

Ayuban said the fear of an immediate burial which can happen during nighttime or dawn in the event of an untimely death at the hospital has already caused problems.

“Most elderly who are suffering from health problems are now scared to have their regular check-ups or to be admitted in hospitals, they prefer to just stay at home and helplessly wait for their time,” the mayor said.

He said, "aside from the possibility of exposure to other patients, they fear being swabbed and if they meet their untimely death while awaiting for the RT-PCR results, they fear an immediate burial."

"Many elderly died at home and were not given the proper medical attention they deserve because of this fear," he noted.

This despite incidents when many of those who were immediately buried for being suspect or probable COVID cases later turned out to be negative for the virus in their delayed RT-PCR results, the mayor argued. (rahc/PIA-7/Bohol)

Source: Philippines Information Agency (pia.gov.ph)

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