A nurse at a COVID holding hospital in Parañaque. The Philippines has another record breaking single day tally, most of which came from NCR. Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

NCR’s 2,667 new COVID cases bumps the region’s total past the 50,000 mark

54% of today’s 4,962 new COVID cases come from NCR, the healthcare facilities of which are overrun. Our citizens and healthcare workers deserve better says our resident expert. BY BENJAMIN CO MD
ANCX | Aug 01 2020

Infectious diseases and clinical pharmacology expert Dr. Benjamin Co has been thankfully breaking down coronavirus numbers in his personal blog since the outbreak started. The perspective he provides is informative, and comforting in those who are craving for a clear picture of how we are faring against the virus. Dr. Co will share daily updates and analysis of the Department of Health reported numbers with ANCX. 


[Disclaimer: Whatever is written here is based on information released by the Department of Health (DoH) at the time of publication. Whatever changes DoH makes in their data later on…well that’s a different story in itself and as they say in their disclaimer: “the total cases reported may be subject to change as these numbers undergo constant cleaning and validation.”]

With almost 5,000 confirmed cases, and 2,667 from NCR alone, the beginning of August foreshadows of what lies ahead as the number of cases continue its upward trajectory.

I recall last April, writing about a perfect storm and how the outcome of this coronavirus pandemic could greatly affect the country if the government is unable to address this concern before lifting quarantine measures. This was supposed to be plan B. 

Congestion, crowding, and having to deal with rain, flood and other infectious diseases that come with the typhoon season. 

The Department of Health announced 4,962 confirmed cases today out of total tests done in 78.7 percent of laboratory facilities bringing the total number of cases to 98,232. 

We now displace Egypt for the 25th spot and rank 10th in the world yesterday for the most number of cases as we continue to jostle our way to the 100,000 mark tomorrow. 

NCR, as expectedly, contributed to 54 percent of the cases with 2,667 reported. Three provinces in Region IVA hauled in close to 1,000 cases: Cavite with 405, Laguna with 324, and Rizal with 252. Cebu is on a decline with 355 cases reported today after weeks of ECQ.

The number of active cases is now up at 30,928 from a previous of around 26,153 because of only a paltry of 93 recoveries from the over dramatic 38,000 recoveries the previous days. This brings the touted 73 percent recovery rate crashing to 66.4 percent. And as we have more cases in the coming days, it will take another 14 to 21 days before you can even consider them recoveries. Six of the recoveries were removed because they were duplicates. 

There were 40 reported deaths, bringing the fatality rate to 2.17 percent. 

Of the 17 deaths today, five were from Calabarzon, five from NCR, four from Region VII, two from Region I, and one from Region IX. 

Of these 17 deaths, 13 occurred in July while four in June. 

Eighty-five cases were removed from the total case count.

Data for July 31, 2020 (reported on August 1) show there are 95 accredited testing sites (72 RT-PCR and 23 GeneXpert laboratories) in the country. How many are functional is a totally different question altogether as the number of testing facilities submitting reports on time is a work in progress. 

The Philippines has tested approximately 1.3 percent of the total population as it registers 1,423,630 individuals tested compared to yesterday’s 1,379,866 individual tests done—and increase of more than 43,000 tests! (How many are repeat tests from previous positive patients or new confirmed cases is not indicated.)

We will break down the close to 5,000 cases tomorrow (and the more than 43,000 individuals tested). And it will be interesting to see what the Data Drop will reveal. With this number of new confirmed cases, will those unknowns will remain the bothersome bunch? With this number of individuals tested, how will the daily positivity rate be affected?


The data yesterday

Let’s start off dissecting the rising cases for the past days. As previously noted, the Health Agency adjusts the reports on cases twice a day (although inconsistently). 

The initial July 29 report was 28,437 individuals with 3,743 positives or a daily rate of 13.2 percent. The second report 12 hours later was 31,433 individuals tested with 4,126 positives bringing the daily positivity rate lower to 13.1 percent.

On July 30, 2020, 4,114 of 29,620 individuals tested (of 31,064 samples) among 83.1 percent submission rate for a 13.1 percent daily positivity rate.

The daily cases being reported by DoH in the past days correlate better with the testing results they publish. As I mentioned previously, you can more or less tell the number of cases the agency would and should announce (after all validation and verification), just by looking at the testing data results.

The three epicenters of the Philippines owned 3,604 of the 4,114 total positive cases for July 30. That’s 87.6 percent of the total. NCR alone? 79.1 percent of the haul!

Note that the data may not be complete because some of the testing facilities are not yet uploaded on the DoH Covid Tracker site. 

So we had the most number of cases reported in a single day yesterday, 4,063. Of these, 118 (2.9 percent) had no known region. The story of the data of the Health Agency. 

The top five regions in terms of total number of cases were NCR (50,611), Region VII (15,430), Region IV-A (8,607), Region III (2,224), and Region VI (1,328). 

Top five regions in terms of cases reported yesterday were NCR (2,267), Region VII (672), Region IVA (500), Region VI (107), and Region III (96). NCR alone had almost 56 percent of all the cases. 

There were 41 cases from repatriates reported and all regions had at least one case.


The unknowns

Of the 350 cases (8.6 percent) classified as unknown (no tagged location or unidentified), 118 had no known region, 12 had no known provinces (two from Calabarzon, 10 from Central Luzon), while the remaining 220 had no identified municipality/city at all (200 from NCR, nine from Laguna, four from Cavite, three from Batangas, one from Quezon, and three from Bulacan). 

The silver lining is that the percentage of unknowns today is the lowest in the past week in spite of the insurmountable number of cases. As to whether this trend will be sustained is the mystery.


The known

Of the identified cases in NCR, the following cities saw triple digits: Quezon City (340), Taguig (263), Manila and Muntinlupa (198 cases each), Makati (149), Pasay (115), Parañaque (113), Navotas (110), and Caloocan (101). 

Cities with double digits but more than 50 were Pasig (90), Mandaluyong (89), Valenzuela (81), and Las Piñas (62).

Other cities with double digit cases but less than 50 were San Juan (49), Marikina (48), Malabon (32) and for the first time, Pateros reported double digits with 29 cases. 

More than 8.8 percent (200) of the reported cases in NCR yesterday had no tagged locations.

Among the other top regions outside of NCR, the following provinces in those regions had the highest cases: Cebu with 658 in Region VII, Laguna with 200 in Region IV-A, Iloilo with 50 in Region VI and Bulacan with 58 in Region III.

Of the 672 cases from Central Visayas, 245 were from Cebu City. Only one other city reported three digit cases – Mandaue with 121. 

Those with double digits included Lapu-Lapu (96), Talisay and Minglanilla (30), Consolacion (26), Danao (22), and Liloan (19). 

There were 38 municipalities/cities that reported single digit cases.

Calabarzon had a total of 500 cases in 62 cities/municipalities in the region. Santa Rosa led with 76 cases. The other cities/municipalities in the region with double digits were Antipolo (44), Bacoor (39), Biñan (37), Calamba (25), Cainta (23), Cabuyao (19), Dasmariñas (18), San Pedro (17), San Mateo (11), Taytay (11), Lipa (11), Imus (10), Cuenca (10).

The rest of the cities/municipalities had single digit cases. 

There were 19 unidentified cases (no tagged location).

Region VI came in fourth with 107 cases in 40 cities/municipalities. Iloilo reported the highest number with 32 cases followed by Bacolod with 26. The rest of the cities/municipalities reported single digits.

Region III rounds up the top five regions with San Jose del Monte in Bulacan reporting 17 cases.

The rest of the cities/municipalities reported single digits. 

There were 13 unidentified cases (no tagged locations).

As of yesterday, the  seven-day average for cases and deaths in the Philippines are up at 2,416 cases/day and 20 deaths/day, respectively

The World

With close to 275,000 cases yesterday, the  seven-day average is now at 255,342 cases/day. Total deaths reported yesterday was 6,268 placing the  seven-day average to 5,753 deaths/day. 

The global case fatality rate is lower at 3.84 percent and recoveries remain at 62.9 percent. [Recovery rates are not very reliable indicators because they are subjective based on the country’s definition of how and when they consider patients “recovered.” Case in point is the Philippines with the sudden time-based endpoint change. Death rates on the other hand, while more definitive of outcomes take a longer time to report and validate.]

Data from WorldOMeters.info.

The United States has more than 4.7 million total cases with 70,904 new cases reported yesterday. For the second day in a row, they also reported the most deaths in the world with 1,462 dying due to COVID-19. 

The top three states with new cases yesterday were Texas (+9,750), Florida (+9,007), and California (+7,878). 

Brazil is in second with 2,666,298 total cases. The country reported 1,191 deaths yesterday. 

India had the second highest cases overnight bringing their total to 1,701,307.

Iran displaces the United Kingdom for the 10th spot.

Top 10 countries that had the highest new cases overnight were:

  • USA – 70,904
  • India – 57,704
  • Brazil – 52,509
  • South Africa – 11,014
  • Colombia – 9,488
  • Mexico – 7,730
  • Peru – 7,243
  • Argentina – 5,929
  • Russia – 5,482
  • Philippines – 4,063

With the 4,963 cases today, the Philippines overtakes Egypt and is now in 25th spot in the world. And on track to overtake Indonesia (which we undoubtedly will) by next week.

With the rising cases not only in the world, but in the Philippines as well, more specifically in Mega Manila, the healthcare workers have requested the government for a “time out” from the overwhelming state of health facilities in NCR. We can only hope that government takes into account the legitimate concerns of the healthcare providers.

Many of those running the show and the kibitzers on the sideline rooting for the economy fail to see that a collapse in the healthcare system will lead to a downward spiral of the economy if the cases of COVID-19 continue to rise in NCR. One life lost in this battle is one life too many and is not worth it for a government that has no empathy for the unsung heroes who day in and day out place their lives on the line. 

We really deserve better.