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 at the time of publication. Whatever changes the 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.”]
First day of the month, the Health Agency announces 3,483 confirmed cases. Of these, 3,191 (92 percent) are recent (from August 19-September 1).
Most of the backlogs are from August 1-18 with 206 cases, while 60 are from the month of July. We have entered the 7th month of our various forms of “lockdown” in the country, and we’re still counting patients all the way back from March.
Did we really miss that many cases in March?
NCR has 1,824 cases (52 percent of today’s total). However, 93 percent (1,689) of these are now recent. The other four provinces that contributed to today’s numbers are all from Region IVA: Laguna (22), Cavite (184), Rizal (161) and Batangas (126).
Repatriates (ROF) contribute 132 cases to today’s total.
Based on the infographic, 2.4 percent are severe or critical (or approximately more than 1,500 cases).
Thirty eight cases were removed from the total cases.
The Health Agency divides its report either as recent (last 14 days) or as “backlogs”.
Of the 3,483 cases today, 3,191 (92 percent) are recent (from the period August 19-September 1, 2020).
Top five regions aside from NCR and CALABARZON are: Central Luzon in third, Western Visayas in fourth, and Central Visayas in fifth.
“Of the 3,483 cases reported today, 2,902 (83 percent) do not have information on date of onset of illness, 126 do not have information on date of specimen collection, while 104 do not have information on both.” (Yet the Department of Health uses the Date of Onset of Illness in their reporting for some inexplicable reason.)
“In cases where date of onset of illness is missing, the date of specimen collection (minus 3 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 9 days) were used as proxy.”
There were a handful of recoveries today, bringing the recovery rate down to 70 percent while 39 new deaths brings down the case fatality rate to 1.60 percent.
The NCR continues to have the highest cases and the highest deaths with 18 (46 percent) of the announced deaths today, followed by Region IVA with 9 deaths and Cagayan Valley with 5.
Of the 39 deaths, 34 were reported this month, 2 were from July, 1 from June and 2 way back from May.
There are 113 testing facilities (85 RT-PCR and 28 GeneXpert) in the country. Data for August 31 reported today, shows 2,459,653 individuals tested. Our cumulative positivity rate is at 10.6 percent, which is quite far off from the 5 percent and below that is desired. We’re still not testing enough.
THE DATA YESTERDAY
As of August 31, 2020, a total of 2,440,124 individuals have been tested. There were 3,526 positives from 31,206 individuals tested on that day with reports coming from 93 of 107 testing labs.
Daily positive rate is down to 11.3 percent (previous is 12.3), while cumulative positive rate is steady at 10.6 percent.
Among the 3,526 positives that day, 2,512 were from 36 out of 40 testing centers in the NCR (71.2 percent of total). Daily positive rate of NCR is down to 12.9 percent (previous 14.3) and cumulative positive rate up at 12.5 percent.
As of yesterday, the Philippines had 220,819 confirmed cases with NCR owning 56.2 percent of the total cases in the country.
For August 31, 2020, NCR had 1,900 new confirmed cases with Regions IVA, III, VIII and VI rounding up the top regions.
There were ZERO individuals with no tagged location on a regional level.
But that’s not where the data gets weird.
Yesterday, the Health Agency announced that the top five provinces that had the highest cases were: NCR, Laguna, Cavite, Leyte and Pampanga.
As a matter of fact, in the infographic yesterday [provided below as a screenshot from the Department of Health (logo and all)], Pampanga was number five with 116 cases.
Oddly, the data drop of the COVID-19 tracker did not provide congruent information.
As a matter of fact, Central Luzon had the most number of unknowns in a single day with 277 having no tagged location on a provincial level (unknown province).
It makes you wonder how (and where) the agency even got their information that Pampanga had 116 cases.
There were 322 untagged locations yesterday. None on a regional level but 308 on a provincial level – 277 from Central Luzon, 19 from Ilocos Region, 7 from Cagayan Valley and 5 from CALABARZON.
The remaining 45 were on a municipality/city level, with NCR having 12 ‘unknowns’.
So before we dive deep into the information on Mega Manila, let’s look closely at the data from Central Luzon (Region III) yesterday.
According to the Health Agency, Pampanga had a big revelation – 116 cases – enough numbers to land fifth among the top provinces for the day.
Based on their data, it’s clear that in Region III, of 292 cases, 277 were from an unknown province (unidentified). That’s 95 percent of the cases there. As a matter of fact, Pampanga registered only 3 cases.
It is baffling how the Health Agency can report that Pampanga had 116 cases the day before (remember that we only report data coming from the data drop site and I extract only the data drop at 11am the following day so that I provide allowance for any possible changes from the encoders), but surprisingly has no proof basis for those 116 cases.
At first, I thought that it was an error in the data drop, but even when you go through the COVID19 Tracker site, the screenshot for data as of August 31, 2020 shows you the following, in sequence:
That number of new cases in Pampanga total only 3. I don’t also understand why Angeles City is separated from Pampanga in their listing.
Where did the 277 from Central Luzon yesterday come from? Did Pampanga really have 116 cases? The disaggregated information from the agency does not sit well in terms of accuracy and efficiency and it is a call out for the Department of Health to do better in handling data because as I have always said time and again, bad data leads only to bad decision making.
NCR reported 1,900 cases (55 percent of total) with Quezon City (as usual) having the highest count – 342. Six other cities had triple digits: Manila, Pasay, Parañaque, Caloocan, Marikina and Pasig.
Las Piñas, San Juan, Valenzuela, Taguig, Malabon, Makati and Mandaluyong had more than 50 cases.
Pateros, Navotas and Muntinlupa had less than 50 cases.
There were 12 individuals with no tagged location at this level.
The following provinces had the highest cases for their respective region: Laguna for Region IVA, ‘Unknowns’ for Region III, Leyte for Region VIII, and Iloilo for Region VI.
Region IVA reported close to 500 cases yesterday with the provinces of Laguna, Cavite, and Rizal reporting triple digits.
Dasmariñas (in Cavite) tied with the City of Calamba (in Laguna) for the top spot on a city/municipality level. Fifteen other cities/municipalities also reported double digits.
There were five cases with no tagged location on this level.
As mentioned above, Region III was in third with 95 percent of the total having no tagged location on a provincial/city/municipality level.
Region VIII has been in fourth spot for the last few days with more cases being reported. The province of Leyte had the most cases, with 155 reported yesterday. On a city/municipality level, Tacloban City had the highest number of cases in a single day with 102 newly announced.
Western Visayas landed on fifth with the province of Iloilo reporting 87 of the 165 cases (53 percent of total for the region).
The city of Iloilo tops the list among the cities/municipalities in the region with 49 of the 87 cases in the province (56.3 percent of total for Iloilo province).
There was one unknown case from this region.
As of yesterday, the average new cases in the Philippines is around 3,800 per day. In spite of the lower number of deaths yesterday, the 7-day average is up at 80 deaths/day.
The global case fatality rate is at 3.33 percent and recoveries at 70 percent. As the number of confirmed cases increase, the fatality and recovery rates slow down. There are also lesser deaths being reported globally. [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’.]
The United States has now more than 6.2 million cases, with California, Texas and Missouri (displacing Florida) reporting the top three cases yesterday.
Brazil remained in second with more than 3.9 million case from 48,000 cases yesterday.
India remains in third spot globally but continues to have the highest number of new confirmed daily cases in the world with more than 68,000 cases yesterday. It also ranked first globally in death count.
Argentina has now taken the tenth spot previously occupied by Chile.
Russia is one day away from being the next country that will cross the next million mark.
Top ten countries with new confirmed cases reported for August 31, 2020 still included the Philippines in tenth spot, with 3,446 cases.
The top ten countries with highest deaths reported for August 31, 2020 were as follows:
The Health Agency will need to step up on data collection AND reporting. The discrepancy in the Pampanga data alone, for example, is a cause for concern as the numbers churned out by the DoH provide guidance to the national and local governments on subsequent plans of action.
Discombobulated data results in a mix of imprudent and costly decisions made. At any level of governance.