A healthcare worker waits to receive patients at a QC hospital. Today, we broke our single day record for COVID cases again. Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Culture Spotlight

With new COVID cases far outnumbering recoveries, the PH recovery rate dips below 50%

Another record breaking single day tally for the country coincides with the globe going past the 20 million mark. Meanwhile, our active cases is at nearly 67,000, which is also almost half of our total. BY BENJAMIN CO MD
ANCX | Aug 10 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. 

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[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.”]

We were short of 42 cases to pass the 7,000 mark. With 6,958 cases reported at 8 PM by the Health Agency, we definitely will be in the top five countries in the world with the highest number of cases reported overnight. 

This brings the total now to 136,638 coronavirus cases in the Philippines, which puts us 14,000 cases shy of Iraq’s total. 

National Capital Region (NCR) hauls in 4,163 (60 percent) of the today’s total cases. Of the cases from NCR, 3,447 (83 percent) are recent cases, while only 17 percent are backlogs. 

Two hundred thirty three cases were removed from the total cases with no reason provided. 

The overnight leap pushes us close to the 140,000 mark—and climbing.

The Health Agency provides a tabular breakdown of the newly reported cases by region and date of onset of illness. 

Today’s close to 7,000 cases? 

For the period July 28 to August 10 there were 5,789 cases reported (83.2 percent). 

The remaining 1,169 cases were backlogs with almost 1,000 from July 1 to July 27 alone. June had 29, May had 35, April had 49 and March had 43 backlogs reported. If one looks closely sat the data, NCR and Calabarzon had two of the biggest backlogs. 

“Of the 6.958 cases reported today, 5,807 cases do not have information on date of onset of illness, 147 do not have information on date of specimen collection, and 114 do not have information on both.” 

This just shows how sloppy our data collection is. It’s no wonder this pandemic is way out of control. We can’t even get the data right. 

“In cases where date of onset of illness is missing, the date of specimen collection (minus three days) was used as proxy. In cases where both date of onset of illness and date of specimen collection are missing, the report date (minus nine days) were used as proxy.”

The total active cases is now close to 67,000 or almost half the total cases in the country. Recovery rates have now dipped way below the 50 percent mark with only 633 reported today (a pittance compared to the 6,958 new cases). There were 143 duplicates in the recoveries and were removed from the total. 

Case fatality rate is at 1.68 percent. There was one duplicate in the deaths and was also removed. We now total 2,293 deaths. 

Of the 24 deaths reported today, nine came from Calabarzon, six from NCR, four from Region VII, three from Region VI and one apiece from Regions I and IX.

Testing data showed that as reported by August 10 for data from August 9, the Philippines has tested 1,673,503 individuals (1.53 percent of the total population) with 101 accredited facilities (77 RT-PCR and 24 GeneXpert laboratories). In spite of the over 100 facilities accredited, it is disappointing to note that the number of submission reports average 85 percent only.

As the Department of Health puts additional infographics attempting to provide an upbeat scenario in spite of the grim statistics, let’s keep the data real and call a spade a spade. 

Even with a Rt (reproductive ratio) of 1.24, people need to understand that with this kind of numbers, the transmissibility or contagiousness of the disease will infect more people because more people are infected. That is common sense.

The table above summarizes how we ended last week. Just as a fair reminder to all that the growth rate in number of cases, the number of people infected per million, the number of cases and deaths just for the week show that we’re really not doing fine. 

And if you need further proof, let’s break it even down a bit more on the regional level. With the ECQ in Region VII for the past month saw the effect on the seven-day growth average based in that region. All other regions saw an uptrend in the growth rate for the week, a shortening in the doubling time of cases and an economy badly affected because of the various forms of lockdowns—sadly, the only exit strategy the government engages in at the moment.

 

That data yesterday

As of August 8, 2020, 1,654,541 individuals have been tested yielding 3,591 positive from 28,592 individuals tested. Reports came from 76 of 94 laboratories. Daily positivity rate is up at 12.6 percent with the cumulative positive rate up at 9.9 percent.

With 3,109 cases yesterday, the Philippines remains in 10th spot for more than a week already. 

When one looks closely at the table provided by the Health Agency, notice that of the 3,109 cases yesterday, 1,054 were confirmed cases from July 26 all the way back to March 2020. This meant that as of July 27 to August 9, there were only 2,055 confirmed (validated) cases. Most of the backlog were from regions that had the highest cases, NCR and Region IVA. 

NCR now owns over 71,000 cases (54.7 percent) of the total cases in the Philippines. 

The other regions in the top five based on total most number of cases as of yesterday were Region IVA, III, VII, and VI. 

Total of unidentified cases was 5,050 as of yesterday.

For yesterday’s data alone, the five top regions were NCR (1,700), Region IVA (492), Region III (194), Region VII (119), and Region VI (101).

There were 174 repatriates among the cases, while 36 individuals had no tagged location by region (1.2 percent). 

As of yesterday, 6,073 repatriates (4.7 percent) made up the total cases of coronavirus in the Philippines.

 

The unknowns

The unknowns are back, with 170 (5.5 percent) having no tagged location on various levels: 36 no known region, 56 with no known province (all from Calabarzon), while the remaining had no known city/municipality. NCR (again) had the most confirmed cases (65) with no tagged location on a city level.

 

The known

Of the 1,700 cases from NCR, 65 (3.8 percent) had no tagged city. 

Seven cities reported triple digits, with Quezon City (as usual) leading the pack with 381 cases. Manila, Makati, Taguig, Pasay, and Malabon were the other cities with over a hundred reported cases.

Cities with double digits but with more than 50 cases were Caloocan, Muntinlupa, Parañaque, and Mandaluyong. 

Those with doubled digits but had 50 and less cases were Pateros, Valenzuela, Marikina, San Juan, Las Piñas, and Navotas.

Among the top regions, the following provinces reported the highest cases in that region: Laguna with 165 cases for Region IVA, Bulacan with 87 cases for Region III, Cebu with 114 cases for Region VII, and 65 in Iloilo for Region VI.

Region IVA was responsible for 16 percent of the cases with Laguna reporting triple digits and all the other provinces with double digits. There were 56 cases with no tagged location on a provincial level. 

On a city/municipality level, Calamba led with 40 cases followed by Santa Rosa, San Pedro, Cabuyao, Antipolo, Bacoor, Cainta, Biñan, Taytay, General Trias and San Mateo. The rest had single digit cases.

There were 65 cases with no tagged location on a city/municipality level.

Region III is now in third spot with most of the cases coming from Bulacan and Pampanga. 

San Jose del Monte, Angeles, and San Fernando reported double digits, while the remaining 56 cities/municipalities reported single digit. There were three cases with no tagged location.

Central Visayas had 119 total cases with most coming from Lapu-Lapu, Cebu City, Talisay, Consolacion, and Mandaue. The remaining were all single digit cases.

Region VI remained on the top five with Iloilo and Bacolod having double digits and the rest with single digit report.

The seven-day average for cases is down to 3,830 cases/day but the seven-day average for deaths is up at 31 deaths/day.

 

The world

The world has officially surpassed 20 million coronavirus cases. With close to three-fourths of a million deaths and nearly 13 million recoveries, we mark a grim milestone in healthcare with a pandemic that began in December in China and variable months in several countries.

Unlike the Philippines that provides reports on a daily basis, some countries have downtime on weekends which explains the lower numbers. In the graph below notice the two-day lower numbers weekly—Saturdays and/or Sundays. 

With a little less than 220,000 cases yesterday and a little more than 4000 deaths, that was enough to bring the global total to 20,040,805. 

The global case fatality rate is lower at 3.66 percent and recoveries remain at 64.4 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.” There are some countries also that do not count recoveries like the U.K and Denmark. 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 closes in to 5.2 million cases mark with California, Florida and Texas reporting the top three cases yesterday. 

Brazil remains in second with more than three million cases and a surprisingly low number of cases with only 22,213 cases (a large drop from its daily fifty to sixty thousand).

India reported the most cases (62,117) and most deaths (1,013) yesterday, bringing their total to 2,217,645.

The top ten countries with the highest number of cases yesterday were:

  • India – 62,117
  • USA – 47,849
  • Brazil – 22,213
  • Colombia – 10,611
  • Peru – 7,012
  • South Africa – 6,671
  • Russia – 5,189
  • Argentina – 4,688
  • Philippines – 4,131

As of August 9, 2020, the World Health Organization data shows that the Philippines leads in the Western Pacific Region in total cases. Japan and Australia are experiencing their second wave in the region.

So yes, we’re now at a scramble trying to make sense of the rising numbers and how to address the pandemic. With the goal of making the economy and health co-exist together, the most likely next helpful step would be to utilize AI (artificial intelligence) in order to track patients who are positive. We also have to make sure that we have more efficient data collection so that we can do proper testing with the right tools. I understand that there are people who have invested heavily on purchasing those useless rapid testing kits, the government and LGUs included, and hence must end up defending their “potential” usability.

In the end, the numbers won’t lie. And we won’t be able to hide the data no matter what we do.

No amount of data cherry picking will convince the people that we’re doing okay. Let’s stop all the window dressing and get down to real business, once and for all.