MANILA--The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday cautioned against comparing the Philippines' surging COVID-19 infections to others in the region after the country surpassed Indonesia with the most number of cases in Southeast Asia.
The Philippines' coronavirus tally of 119,460 cases moved past Indonesia's 118,753 last Thursday, raising fears that that government was losing control of the pandemic despite imposing one of the longest and strictest lockdowns in the world.
But Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the government was "continuously strengthening our efforts" to manage the cases.
Active cases in the Philippines also climbed to 50,473 while Indonesia, despite having a much bigger population, had 37,587.
"We have to be very cautious when we try to compare our numbers with other countries," Vergeire said in an online press conference.
In "benchmarking" COVID-19 numbers in the Philippines with those of neighboring countries, the public should consider differences in "settings," population, and health care systems, she said.
Vergeire cited Singapore, which had more than 9,000 cases per million population, compared to the Philippines' 1,089.
The tiny city state had 54,555 confirmed cases, 48,031 of whom were listed as having recovered as of Thursday.
The Philippine government reimposed stricter lockdowns on Metro Manila and nearby provinces from August 4 to 18, hoping that a recalibrated strategy would arrest the rising number of COVID-19 cases and allow hospitals and medical workers to cope.