MANILA (UPDATE) — The Philippines registered nearly a thousand more cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) on Wednesday, as the government eased quarantine restrictions in some areas while retaining General Community Quarantine in the capital region.
There are now 38,511 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the country after the Department of Health reported 999 additional patients. Of this total, 595 are “fresh cases,” which refer to test results released within the last 3 days, while 404 are “late cases," or those whose results were released at least four days ago.
Of the fresh cases, 175 are from the National Capital Region while 134 are from Region 7 or Central Visayas. There are also 286 that are tagged as “Others” which refer to cases from other regions or those without location information.
Of the late cases, 131 are from NCR, and 57 are from Region 7 while 216 are tagged as “Others.”
There were also two cases that were identified as duplicates and were removed from the total count of cases.
“Ang mabilis na pagtaas ng mga kaso ay makikita po sa mga hotspots tulad ng Cebu na maaring dahil sa high community transmission,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a televised briefing.
(The quick rise in cases is from hotspots like Cebu which might be because of high community transmission.)
Earlier in the day, President Rodrigo Duterte's spokesman Harry Roque said he was confident the Philippines "can prevail over the disease... even if there is no vaccine and there is no cure as of yet."
Roque said the Philippine lockdown, one of the longest in the world, has cut down the time that it takes for cases of COVID-19 to double to 7 days, a "far cry" from the 3-day rate in March.
He also claimed the country's fatality rate was down to 10 per day while the positivity rate (the percentage of those who tested positive for the virus) was at 6 to 7 percent, which is below the international threshold of 12.
"It's a small victory, but still a victory, which means that with behavioral change, we can prevail over the disease," Roque said.
But the World Health Organization (WHO) said the coming few weeks would be crucial for the Philippines as the body observed an increase in COVID-19 cases and hospital occupancy amid eased quarantine restrictions.
“Unfortunately, the data shows that there [are] ongoing infections,” Dr. Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional director for the Western Pacific said.
“And after gradually easing the lockdown, we [are] also carefully monitoring the data and then we are seeing… for example, the number of hospitals occupancy started going up,” he added.
The DOH earlier said that the NCR remains the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the Philippines. However, Cebu province and Cebu City in Region 7 are among the emerging hotspots.
The DOH, meanwhile, reported 205 new recovered patients or a total of 10,438 recoveries.
There were also 4 new COVID-related deaths or a total of 1,270.
Vergeire said that the increasing number of new cases is somehow offset by the increasing number of recovered patients.
“Makikita po natin sa trend na kahit dumadami ang kaso ng COVID-19, dumadami din ang recoveries at kumokonti ang mga namamatay, kumpara sa mga nakaraang buwan,” she said.
(We can see in the trend that even if the COVID-19 cases are increasing, the recoveries are also increasing and there are fewer people dying, compared to previous months.)
Worldwide, almost 10.5 million people have been infected with COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard. Of those, 511,000 have died while almost 5.4 million have already recovered.