MANILA - Four new cases of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were confirmed Sunday, bringing the Philippines' total to 10, the Department of Health said on Sunday.
The DOH said samples from all the new confirmed cases were tested on March 7, and all results were released today, March 8.
The 7th case is a 38-year-old Taiwanese male who has a history of contact with a Taiwanese national who visited the Philippines and tested positive for COVID-19 in Taiwan, the DOH said.
The patient has no history of travel outside of the country and his symptoms started last March 3.
The 8th case is a 32-year-old Filipino male who had traveled to Japan within the past 14 days. He began showing symptoms on March 5.
The 9th case is an 86-year-old American male with pre-existing hypertension and history of travel to the United States and South Korea. He began showing symptoms on March 1.
The 10th case is a 57-year-old Filipino male with no history of travel outside of the country.
"He was reported to have had contact with a confirmed COVID-19 case, however, DOH is currently investigating details of his exposure," the DOH said.
All four cases are currently admitted to private hospitals.
The DOH said it is currently investigating all the cases and gathering patients’ information from the respective hospitals, and will release all pertinent information to the public once available.
“The DOH is committed to accurate and timely reporting of verified information on the COVID-19 health situation. We have been preparing for the possibility of localized transmission in the country. Now that there are confirmed cases of localized transmission, DOH and the Inter-agency Task Force are now implementing pre-planned measures to respond to the situation,” Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III said.
“Upon confirmation of new cases, we immediately deployed additional surveillance teams and commenced contact tracing,” he added.
The DOH said it is urging all individuals who will be contacted by its surveillance teams to fully cooperate in their investigation and contact tracing activities.
"All individuals presenting with fever and/or respiratory symptoms with history of travel and exposure are also urged to get in touch with DOH and call the designated hotline at (02)8-651-7800 loc 1149-1150 for appropriate management and referral."
Duque called on the public to be vigilant and practice personal preventive measures such as proper hand hygiene, social distancing, and cough etiquette.
He also called on people to refrain from visiting public places and/or attending mass gatherings.
The DOH clarified that there are 7 cases in the Philippines now as the first three cases were Chinese nationals, two of whom have gone back to their country, while one died because of the disease.
On Friday, two more cases were confirmed in the country, while another case was confirmed on Saturday, prompting the DOH to declare "code red" alert.
Senator Panfilo Lacson said the DOH may be unintentionally underreporting the number of COVID-19 cases, and questioned if the country has enough testers to cover a decent number of the population.
Duque meanwhile said the DOH also has its limitations.
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to sign an executive order on Monday declaring a state of public health emergency due to the spread of COVID-19.