Health authorities are yet to determine whether the death of one “patient of interest” in Puerto Princesa City on Wednesday is linked to COVID-19.

Regional health authorities said Thursday they are yet to retrieve the specimen taken from the patient before he died, for testing.

Noel Orosco, the regional epidemiologist and surveillance unit head of the Department of Health (DOH) in MIMAROPA, said Thursday in a video call interview that the deceased patient’s specimens are yet to be received by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) for confirmatory testing as of 10 a.m.

“Right now, we have 114 [PUIs for testing] sa buong [MIMAROPA] region. Dumami kasi humahabol ang mga tao sa kani-kanilang probinsya. Ini-encourage natin sila na kung galing sila sa ibang lugar is magpa-check,” he said.

Meanwhile, Orosco said that the lack of testing kits still remains an issue, pointing out that the Food and Drugs Association (FDA) has only certified the rapid diagnostic test (RDT) kit recently developed by scientists from the University of the Philippines (UP).

“Walang RDTs, kapag may bagong product, kelangan dumaan sa quality assurance. Ngayon, wala pang ina-approve ang FDA except UP. ‘Yong [galing sa] China and Japan, ite-stest pa ‘yon kung pweede. Ang payo ng DOH itawag sa FDA para tingnan sa reference laboratory,” he added.

Palawan currently has 27 PUIs awaiting test results.

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is a desk editor and senior reporter of Palawan News. He covers politics, environment, tourism, justice, and sports. In his free time, he enjoys long walks with his dog, Bayani.