DoH healthworkers at the We Heal as One Center in Bulacan. The province is one of the biggest contributors to today’s new COVID cases. Photo by Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN New
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Bulacan is one of the biggest contributors to PH’s 6,216 new COVID cases

It joins NCR and Calabarzon provinces Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal as having the most COVID cases tallied today. With more than 6,000 reported again, are we ready for MECQ to end? BY BENJAMIN CO MD
BENJAMIN CO MD | Aug 14 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 6,216 confirmed cases from 95 percent laboratory submission, we now are at 153,660 total cases. 

Of the cases reported today, 80 percent (4,973) were between August 1 to 14, 2020. The rest were backlogs all the way back to March 2020. The bulk of the backlogs was in July, with 1,105 cases. 

National Capital Region (NCR) contributed to 62 percent in today’s haul with 3,848 cases. Provinces in Region IVA round up the top four—Laguna, Rizal and Cavite—with Bulacan (Region III) in the fifth spot. 

Eighty-two (82) ceases were removed from the total for no reason at all.

Of the total active cases, the patients that are severe and critical are now up at 1.6 percent from yesterday’s 1.5 percent. But that’s a fairly large jump considering the number of total active cases we have now is almost 80,000. 

Based on “date of onset of illness” of the 6,216 cases today, 4,973 were between August 1 to 14 (80 percent). The rest were backlogs which dated all the way back to March. However, the most backlogs were between July 1-29 with 1,105 cases. 

NCR and Region IVA accounted for a large chunk of the backlog. Even without the backlog, NCR still had more than 3,000 cases in the last 14 days. 

“Of the 6,216 cases reported today, 5,417 do not have information on date of onset of illness, 322 do not have information on date of specimen collection, while 309 do not have information on both.” 

I really cannot understand why anyone would even consider using the date of onset of illness in the data gathering unless it’s just being used to window dress the data. 

“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.”

With the total active cases close to 80,000, even the 1,083 recoveries could not bring the recovery rate up with the more than 6,000 reported cases. And our recovery rate sinks further to 46.5 percent. As compared to the recovery rate in the world, which is now at 66 percent and in the ASEAN region which is now over 74 percent. Five of the reported recoveries were duplicates and removed from the list of recoveries. 

There were 16 deaths reported today, bringing the case fatality rate to 1.59 percent. 

Of the 16 deaths, nine were from NCR, four from Region VII, one apiece from Regions V, IX, and IVA. 

Seven of the deaths occurred this month, five last July, three last June, and one far back in May.

Testing data for August 13, reported on August 14 shows now 106 licensed testing facilities (79 RT-PCR and 27 GeneXpert) in the country. So far, we have tested 1,829,489 individuals (1.67 percent of the population). With our cumulative positivity rate now at 10.2 percent, this means that we’re not testing enough, and there are more cases out there that are left undetected. 


The data yesterday

As of August 12, 2020, 1,814,815 individuals had been tested. There were 3,788 positives among 27,602 individuals tested yesterday from an 86 percent submission rate, with a daily positive rate of 13.7 percent (previous of 14 percent). However, the cumulative positive rate (or positivity since the beginning of the pandemic is now 10.2 percent. And most likely will continue an upward trajectory in the coming days. 

With 4,002 cases reported yesterday, 61.1 percent were from NCR (which is not unusual anymore). 

More than 82 percent reported were up to date while the remaining 18 percent were backlogs. The backlogs were mainly within the interval from July 1-30, and majority belonged to NCR and Region VII.

NCR has now more than 81,000 total cases since the start of the pandemic. In second is Region IVA with almost 20,000, followed by Region VII with 18,071, Region III with almost 5,000 and Region VI with more than 2,500 cases. 

Total for unidentified cases was 4,937 as of yesterday. 

Top five regions for August 13, 2020 were: NCR, Calabarzon, Central Visayas, Central Luzon and Western Visayas in that order.

There were 92 repatriates reported and 23 cases had no tagged location on a regional level.


The unknowns

There were 109 unknowns (2.7 percent) with no tagged location on various levels: 22 no known region, 30 with no known province (all from Region IVA), while the rest had no known city/municipality. The majority in the latter category is as usual, NCR with 56 with no tagged location.


The known

More than 60 percent of the total cases yesterday were from NCR. Of the 2,445 cases there were 56 with no tagged location (2.3 percent). 

Ten cities reported triple digits with four cities having more than 200 cases: Quezon City, Caloocan, Manila and Parañaque. 

The following cities had more than one hundred but less than 200 cases: Taguig, Valenzuela, Muntinlupa, Mandaluyong, Pasay, and Makati. 

Cities with double digits and more than 50 cases were: Pasig, Marikina, Malabon, Las Piñas, and Pateros. (This has been a most unusual week for Pateros because this area used to see numbers between 0 and 4 cases at the most, ten days ago. )

Other cities with less than 50 cases were San Juan and Navotas.

Among the remaining four top regions, the following provinces had the highest cases in the respective region: Laguna with 319 cases for Region IVA, Cebu with 212 cases for Region VII (half of which were backlogs), Bulacan with 91 for Region III, and Iloilo with 82 for Region VI.

The provinces of Laguna, Rizal and Cavite brought in the haul for Region IVA. There were 30 cases with no tagged location on a provincial level. 

Calamba reported 100 cases while 16 other cities/municipalities reported double digits. There were 52 cases with untagged locations in the city/municipality level. Forty-eight cities and municipalities reported single digit.

Region VII is a far third with 217 cases, considering also that half of the reported in the region yesterday were backlogs. 

Cebu City had the most cases (79) followed by Mandaue (26), Talisay (19), Lapu-Lapu (18), and Minglanilla (14). The rest had single digit report.

Region III had 122 cases with Bulacan reporting the most number of cases.

Finally, Region VI is down to fifth with 114 cases. Iloilo City, by far, reported the most cases with 57.

The seven-day average for cases and deaths are up at 4,022 cases/day and 40 deaths/day.


The World

With more than 288,000 cases yesterday, and close to 7,000 deaths, the world has breached its next million. As of this writing, there are now 21,072,125 coronavirus cases. Majority of the world’s cases are from the Americas (North and South America) being the major drivers to the pool of cases in the world. 

As of yesterday, the Americas trump the overall number of cases in the world. The WHO region with the least number of cases is the Western Pacific Region, of where the Philippines belongs. Of the 389,642 cases in the WPR, close to 40 percent (37.9 percent) is owned by the Philippines.

The global case fatality rate remains at 3.59 percent and recoveries a bit up at 66 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

The United States surpasses the 5.4 million cases mark with California, Texas and Florida reporting the top three cases yesterday. The US reported the second highest deaths in the world with 1,284 deaths. 

Brazil remained in second with more than three million cases and 59,147 new confirmed cases. They seize back the top spot for most reported deaths with 1,301 new deaths yesterday. 

India continues to report the most number of cases in the world with 64,142 yesterday, pushing their total close to the 2.5 million mark.

Top 10 countries contributing to the pool of cases yesterday were:

  • India – 64,142
  • Brazil – 59,147
  • USA – 55,364
  • Colombia – 11,286
  • Peru – 9,441
  • Argentina – 7,498
  • Mexico – 5,858
  • Russia – 5,057
  • Philippines – 4,002
  • South Africa – 3,946

The Philippine remains at ninth place with respect to number of cases reported yesterday with 4,002. 

To echo the thoughts of Dr. James McDeavitt, Senior VP and Dean of Clinical Affairs at the Baylor College of Medicine:

“There is a need to shift the community focus away from ‘what do we need to do to keep the hospitals from being overrun?’ to ‘what do we need to do—in a concrete and sustained manner—to get COVID-19 reduced to the point that we can safely open schools and resume some normal semblance of our prior lives?’”

Day in and day out, as we churn the data, and count the numbers, we need to go back to what metrics should we follow when looking at data. 

1. Rt (reproduction rate) or the estimate of viral infectivity in the community. Let me remind everyone that 1.1 is a very far number from 1.0. We need to make that distinction because 1.1 is a 7-day discrepancy from 1.0. If Rt is more than 1 then we’re losing the battle and the virus just continues to spread. If Rt is less then we are winning. But the Rt waxes and wanes as seen in the dashboard. The priority is to keep the Rt less than one. Not one. Less than one.

2. The community numbers should stay down. And that means less than 200 cases a day to be manageable. We need to get back to the numbers after the ECQ. At this level, our health care system becomes manageable and not overwhelmed and can realistically perform efficiently and do contact tracing appropriately. It is difficult to contact trace numbers in the thousands and results coming back after five to seven days. 

3. The positivity rate should drop to less than five percent. We saw that after the ECQ. The positivity rate is a rough estimate of the prevalence of the virus in the community. Our cumulative positivity rate is now 10.2 percent with daily rates varying from 11.5 to 14 percent. That means that out of 100 people getting tested, 11 to 15 will likely test positive.

All these three metrics alone, if sustained for two weeks, should help us get some normalcy back into our lives. The problem is, we don’t even know what’s being measured at this point, and we are four days before MECQ comes to a close.

We can only hope that the best laid plans are in place.