Philippines' COVID-19 tally soars to 20,626

Davinci Maru, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jun 05 2020 04:49 PM | Updated as of Jun 05 2020 07:14 PM

A man disinfects the Quiapo Church in Manila on June 5, 2020 amid the general community quarantine. Only 50 devotees are allowed inside for prayer every 15 minutes, with 3 to 5 minute disinfections in between intervals. During masses, only 10 devotees are allowed inside. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News​

MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – The Philippines on Friday documented 244 new COVID-19 cases, bringing the overall tally from the pandemic to 20,626, as the country shifted to eased quarantine restrictions.

Of the new infections, which is the country’s lowest single-day increase in nearly 2 weeks, 168 are "fresh cases" while 76 are considered "late cases," the Department of Health (DOH) said in its latest bulletin.

Fresh cases are test results released and validated in the last 3 days, while late cases are validated and confirmed late.

Central Visayas recorded the most number of fresh cases with 127, followed by the National Capital Region with 24. Some 17 others came from other regions.

Out of the late cases, the National Capital Region had 24, Central Visayas had 11 and 41 came from other regions.

The respiratory illness, caused by the novel coronavirus named SARS-CoV-2, also claimed another 3 lives, latest figures showed.

The nationwide death toll stood at 987. The country has recorded an average of 6.4 deaths daily in the past week.

Meanwhile, cases of recoveries jumped by 82 over the previous day, raising the tally to 4,330, according to official data.

To date, health authorities are monitoring 15,150 active cases, with majority of the patients exhibiting mild symptoms.

In a virtual press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said health officials are now seeing a more accurate picture of the pandemic.

“Mababa na po ang bilang ng mga late cases na naitala natin ngayon sapagkat halos tapos na po ang pagva-validate ng complete line list na galing sa ating mga laboratories,” she said.

(We have recorded low numbers of late cases because we are nearly finished in validating the complete line list from our laboratories.)

The health official said only 1 laboratory has yet to submit its complete line list, which refers to tests conducted by laboratories from the time they began operating.

The country currently has 41 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) laboratories, considered as gold standard for COVID-19 testing, and is capable of doing 10,000 tests daily, Vergerie said.

Since there are no approved vaccine yet for COVID-19, the Philippines has joined the World Health Organization’s multi-country solidarity trial, which aims to discover effective treatment against the illness. Some 220 Filipinos are currently enrolled in the clinical trial.

The solidarity trial involves the participation of more than 100 countries who want to help test 4 drug and drug combinations that are believed to help treat COVID-19 patients. These are (1) remdesivir, (2) lopinavir and ritonavir combined, (3) lopinavir and ritonavir plus interferon beta, and (4) chloroquine.

These are all off-label drugs, which means they were created for other illnesses but are believed to have a positive effect on coronavirus patients.

The coronavirus pandemic has sickened nearly 6.5 million people, led to 386,000 deaths, since it emerged in China's city of Wuhan last December, according to the World Health Organization.