Philippines confirms 16 new COVID-19 cases; total now at 49

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 11 2020 05:43 PM | Updated as of Mar 11 2020 08:43 PM

MANILA (UPDATE) — The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday said 16 new cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) have been confirmed, raising the country's total to 49. 

"The DOH and deployed surveillance teams are now conducting extensive information-gathering and contact-tracing activities on the new cases,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a press briefing.

She said that of the new cases, three are in critical condition and the rest are stable.

“PH29 (Patient 29), a known contact of PH9, is intubated and has underlying cardiovascular and endocrine conditions,” Vergeire said, later adding that Case No. 29 is the 82-year-old Filipino wife of Case No. 9, an 86-year-old American who lives in Marikina City.

“DOH is continuously monitoring the statuses of all patients to ensure that no complications arise throughout their recovery,” she added.

All of the 16 new cases are Filipino. A majority of them also did not travel recently outside the country or were exposed to known COVID-19 cases. Most of them are in hospitals in Metro Manila.

The DOH has been confirming several new cases every day over the past week, with the latest 46 recorded just starting March 6. 

The health department earlier raised its response level to Code Red, Sub-level 1, placing all health personnel and resources ready for deployment, after at least one confirmed local transmission, a COVID-19 patient with no travel history.

There are now more than 113,000 COVID-19 cases confirmed across the world, according to World Health Organization data. Of this number, 4,000 patients have died. 

Other health institutions, meanwhile, have reported that there are now more than 60,000 people who have recovered from the disease.

In the Philippines, only two of the first three cases- all Chinese nationals from virus epicenter Wuhan, China- have recovered so far. The new cases announced this week remain in hospitals. 

In the event of a community-wide transmission, the Philippine government will raise the Code Red alert level to Sub-level 2. This means lockdowns can be imposed in certain areas and schools and offices can declare suspension of classes and work.

The DOH has repeatedly assured the public that it is preparing for the possibility of community-wide transmission. 

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier suspended classes at all levels in Metro Manila this week to prevent possible exposure of students to the virus. He has also placed the country in a state of public health emergency.