Duque touts Philippines' small number of COVID-19 cases


Posted at Apr 09 2020 02:52 AM

Residents of Barangay Paligsahan in Quezon City practice physical distancing as they buy fresh produce Wednesday from a vendor allowed to set up on Mother Ignacia Avenue. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines is among the countries with the lowest number of COVID-19 cases, its health chief said Thursday.

"Isa tayo sa may pinakababang bilang," Health Secretary Francisco Duque said in a press briefing with President Duterte past midnight. 

As of Wednesday, the novel coronavirus infected 106 more people, raising the nation's tally to 3,870.

The disease, which originated in Wuhan City in Hubei province, China, has so far killed 182 people in the Philippines with 96 recoveries. 

Duque attributed the low numbers to strict containment measures such as air travel restrictions and the enhanced community quarantine in Luzon. 

"Nakatulong ito sa pagpigil ng pagkalat ng COVID-19 sa Pilipinas," he said.

However, the Philippines, unlike countries that have much more COVID-19 cases, has tested relatively fewer people due to its limited number of test kits and stricter conditions on who should be tested. 

As of April 5, only 19,585 individuals have been tested for COVID-19. This number includes COVID-19 positive patients who undergo multiple tests. Of the total number tested, 83% yielded negative results. 

In early March, the Philippine government denied entry to foreign nationals coming from countries with confirmed local transmissions of COVID-19.

It also imposed a month-long lockdown in Luzon, an island group of over 50 million people, to arrest the spread of the disease, which has been extended until April 30.

In Asia, the Philippines ranked 10th in the countries with COVID-19 infections, data from US-based John Hopkins University.

China, where the virus originated, has the most number of coronavirus cases with more than 80,000. It is followed by Iran, Turkey, South Korea, Israel, India, Japan, Pakistan and Malaysia.

Meanwhile, among Southeast Asian countries, the Philippines comes second after Malaysia with more than 4,000 COVID-19 cases.