2,737 of today’s more than 5,000 cases came from Metro Manila. Photo by Patrick Roque on Wikimedia Commons
Culture Spotlight

After crossing the 100,000 mark, the Philippines is set to overtake Indonesia in total COVID cases

The single day COVID tally record was broken for the third straight day, placing the country within arms-reach of SEA neighbor Indonesia. BY BENJAMIN CO MD
ANCX | Aug 02 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.”]

5,083 confirmed cases.

103,185 total cases.

We broke records today, and those numbers are staggeringly high—so high that we now remain among the top 10 countries that contribute to the most number of cases of coronavirus in the world. 

Of the more than 5,000 cases, 2,737 or 54.4 percent belong to NCR alone. Three provinces in Region IVA continue to haul in record numbers: Cavite with 463, Laguna with 326, and Rizal with 201 cases. Cebu reported 449 cases overnight, but I think this may be late reported cases due to validation and verification from the central office rather than actual daily cases reported from the testing facilities. Of the 94 laboratories, less than three fourths provided a report. 

Seventy-nine were removed from the total cases with no reason provided.

The number of active cases is now up at 35,569 from a previous of around 30,928 because of only 301 recoveries (from the over dramatic 38,000 recoveries the previous days) compared to the overwhelming number of confirmed cases. This brings the touted 73 percent recovery rate three days ago crashing to 63.5 percent. Eight of the recoveries were removed because they were duplicates. 

There were 20 reported deaths, bringing the fatality rate to two percent. 

Of the 20 deaths today, 15 were from Region VII, four from NCR, and one from Calabarzon.

Of these 20 deaths, 17 occurred in July, three last June, and three last May. 

Eight recoveries were removed from the total recovery 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. As to 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 1.33 percent of the total population as it registers 1,453,038 individuals tested.

We will break down the more than 5,000 cases tomorrow. And it will be interesting to see what the Data Drop will reveal as there was so much confusion in the data drop yesterday. [Seriously, if you go through the data yesterday, it was like these encoders were so tired that they just filled in the blanks and left you to go figure. 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 30 report showed 4,114 positives from 29,620 individuals tested or a daily positivity rate of 13.1 percent. The second report 12 hours later (adjusted data) showed 4,389 positives from 31,084 individuals tested for a daily positive rate higher at 14.1 percent. 

July 31 initial report showed 3,641 positives from 26,149 individuals tested and reported by 71 of 89 laboratories, bringing the daily positive rate to 13.9 percent. 

The cumulative positivity rate of the Philippines is up at 9.5 percent and climbing.

The three epicenters of the Philippines owned 3,352 of the 3,641 total positive cases in the July 31 report. That’s 92 percent of the total. NCR alone? 83 percent of the haul! 

So we had the most number of cases reported in a single day yesterday: 4,963. Of these, 146 (2.94 percent) had no known region–the story of the data of the Health Agency. [In order not to embarrass the agency, I will not post the haphazardly assembled data drop. Because while we’re at the pinnacle of the problem of how to control the pandemic, I cannot overemphasize the point, it all begins with accurate and understandable data.] 

To date, the top five regions in terms of total number of cases are NCR (53,135), Region VII (15,782), Region IVA (9,756), Region III (2,393), and Region VI (1,383). 

The top five regions in terms of cases reported yesterday were NCR (2,661), Region IVA (1,095), Region VII (369), Region III (189), and Region VI, and V (60 each). NCR alone had almost 54 percent of all the cases. 

There were 91 cases from repatriates reported and all regions had at least one case.


The unknowns

Of the 400 cases (8.1 percent) classified as unknown (no tagged location or unidentified), 146 had no known region, 18 had no known provinces (all from Calabarzon), while the remaining 236 were simply a mess. In NCR alone, 209 had no city while there were nine individuals with different descriptive jargons that meant the same thing, unidentified. 

This type of reporting is consistent in the areas with high volume of cases. This should not be the case because it is the same area where the Health Agency should focus on data accuracy.


The known

NCR is a mess. The number of cases has disproportionately multiplied four to five times in various cities. The following cities saw triple digits yesterday: Quezon City (638), Manila (320), Taguig (216), Caloocan (150), Makati (147), Pasig (143), Parañaque (143), Pasay (136), Muntinlupa (120), and Mandaluyong (119). 

Cities with double digits but more than 50 were Las Piñas (71), Navotas (55), and Marikina (51). 

Other cities with double digit cases but less than 50 were Valenzuela (48), Malabon (46), and San Juan (45).

Pateros had only four cases.

Two hundred eighteen (8.2 percent) 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 355 in Region VII, Cavite with 405 in Region IV-A, Bulacan with 96 in Region III, and Negros Occidental with 24 in Region VI.

Calabarzon is the new epicenter outside of Region VII. With 1,095 cases in the region, 86 municipalities/cities reported cases. Santa Rosa led the pack with 108 cases. 

Double digits were seen in the following: General Trias, Dasmariñas, Cainta, Calamba, Antipolo, Cabuyao, Biñan, Imus, Trece Martires, Bacoor, Rodriguez, Taytay, Cavite City, San Pedro, San Mateo, Silang, Tanza, and Morong. 

The others reported single cases. There were 32 tagged as unknown city, eight tagged as address no provided, and one as “others – FULU” (whatever that meant).

Of the 369 cases from Central Visayas, 140 were from Cebu City. 

The following reported double digits: Lapu-Lapu, Mandaue, Talisay, Consolacion, Daanbantayan, Compostela and Minglanilla. 

There were 29 municipalities/cities that reported single digit cases. 

Three cases were classified as unknown or address not provided.

Region III came in fourth with 189 cases in 54 municipalities/cities.

San Jose del Monte in Bulacan reported the most with 29 cases. Others with two digit cases were Cabanatuan (12), Balanga (12), and Hagonoy (11).

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

The messed up data included reporting Bulacan as Bulacan with 13 cases and one case apiece classified as others as “ONDON, NO CITY IN CIF, and ADDRESS NOT FOUND.”

Region VI tied in fifth with Region V with 60 cases apiece. Bacolod leads the region with 11 cases followed by Iloilo with 10. There are 33 cities/municipalities with single digit cases.

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 2,831 cases/day and 21 deaths/day, respectively


The week in review

This week saw a steep uphill surge. We broke many daily records and the last three days saw us breaking the daily confirmed cases records to top a seven-day average of close to 3,000 cases/day. The last week alone saw us record four digits daily.

While the case fatality rate continues to decline, this may not be the true picture of deaths due to COVID-19 because outcomes are not seen this early on. It will take four to eight weeks (sometimes longer) before fatalities are reported. As we see a tumultuous rise in our cases this past weeks, expect the fatalities to come in four to eight weeks later. 

Our doubling time has shortened. The Rt is now 1.29 (higher than the previous week), with a daily growth rate of over 3 percent. The summary above provides a more or less somber situation of the pandemic in the country. As businesses begin to open in NCR and other contiguous cities in the area, the number of cases also pile up. The health care system is overwhelmed and there has been a call by healthcare workers for a “time-out” because the health personnel are taking the brunt of the casualties.

When medical front liners fall ill or get infected, hospitals become understaffed and the quality of care in a health facility significantly affects the outcomes of patients. Poor outcomes is an unacceptable barter for any economy. We all know how to restart economies that fail. But lives that are lost cannot be resurrected. 


The World

With 221,440 additional cases reported in the world yesterday, we have officially passed the 18 million mark. The seven-day average teeters around the 250,000 cases/day or one million cases every four days. At this rate, the world will see 20,000,000 cases between 7 to 10 days from today. 

There were 5,147 reported deaths globally bringing the seven-day average for deaths to 5,648/day. 

The global case fatality rate is lower at 3.82 percent and recoveries slightly lower at 62.87 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 4.75 million total cases with 58,429 new cases reported yesterday. For the third day in a row, they also reported the most deaths in the world with 1,123 dying due to COVID-19. 

The top three states with new cases yesterday were Florida (+9,642), California (+7,382), and Texas (+6,720). Among the 50 states in the US, California leads with more than half a million cases, followed by Florida and Texas, respectively. The highest total deaths is still owned by New York with 32,733 (CFR = 7.37 percent) followed by New Jersey with 15,907 (CFR = 8.47 percent).

Brazil remains in second with 2,708,876 total cases. The country reported 1,048 deaths yesterday. 

India had the second highest cases overnight bringing their total to 1,751,919.

Iran displaces the United Kingdom for the 10th spot.

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

  • USA – 58,429
  • India – 54,865
  • Brazil – 42,478
  • Colombia – 10,763
  • South Africa – 10,107
  • Mexico – 8,458
  • Peru – 7,448
  • Russia – 5,462
  • Argentina – 5,241
  • Philippines – 4,963

With more than 5,000 cases today, the Philippines is on track to overtake Indonesia any time soon.

The government needs to regroup, strategize and create a blueprint of the best and worst case scenario for our exit plan from this pandemic, particularly NCR.

If we had one, we wouldn’t be having this discussion now.