MANILA — The Department of Health on Friday announced 119 new COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, bringing the nationwide total to 4,195.
The department also reported 16 new recoveries or a total of 140 recovered patients and 18 new deaths or 221 total fatalities since the start of the pandemic.
For the past few days, the number of new cases confirmed daily has gone down to the range of 100 to 200. This is much lower than more than a week ago when the number of new cases reached about 300 to 500 per day.
The DOH has attributed the spike then to the backlog in test results caused by insufficient test kits and laboratories at that time.
As the country received more test kits and accredited more laboratories to run COVID-19 tests, the number of new cases went up. Health officials said the numbers should stabilize in a few days and should show the real picture in terms of the effect of the Luzon lockdown on the spread of the virus.
Asked if the lower number of new cases is enough to say that the Philippines is “flattening the curve” or succeeding in its social distancing measures, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during an ABS-CBN interview on Friday that it is hard to tell.
“Hindi pa rin natin masasabi sa ngayon kung naachieve na natin ngayon yung flattening ng curve. Sa nakukuha nating mga datos o numero ito ay dahil sa pagextend ng mga kapasidad natin sa laboratoryo,” Vergeire said.
(We can’t say for now if we’ve been able to flatten the curve. The numbers we are seeing now is because we have extended the capacity of our laboratories.)
Vergeire said the DOH is targeting 8,000 to 10,000 tests a day to see the “real picture.”
The DOH earlier said that it is hoping to run 8,000 tests a day by the end of April. This is done by accrediting more laboratories around the country and training more people.
The government imposed an enhanced community quarantine on Luzon on March 16, suspending public transportation and other non-essential services and activities.
As of Friday, there were more than 82,000 new cases worldwide recorded by the World Health Organization. This brings the total confirmed cases since December to 1.4 million.
Of that number, more than 85,000 have died. Johns Hopkins University, which uses an updated dashboard, shows more than 355,000 recoveries from the cumulative number of cases worldwide.