MANILA — Nearly 140,000 coronavirus infections have been recorded in the Philippines as the country's health department reported 2,987 additional cases on Tuesday.
In its latest bulletin, the Department of Health (DOH) said the cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 139,538, of which, 68,794 are active.
Active cases refer to patients who are still infected with COVID-19 and are staying either in the hospital or under home quarantine.
The Philippines is leading among Southeast Asian countries in the number of total and active infections, and has surpassed the total cases in mainland China where the outbreak originated.
It is the first time since July 29 that the country logged less than 3,000 additional cases in a day, although Tuesday's new cases are only from 74 out of 99 laboratories.
Majority or 1,510 of the additional cases were from the National Capital Region, while 398 are from Cavite, 144 from Laguna, 135 from Iloilo and 119 from Cebu province.
Forty-six percent, or 1,374, of the new cases were from the last two weeks, the DOH said, majority of which are from NCR (45%), 20 percent from Region 4A, and 11 percent from Region 6.
Meanwhile, the total number of recoveries went up by 280 to 68,432.
With 19 new COVID-related fatalities, the death toll climbed as well to 2,312. Majority of the additional deaths were from August (8) and July (7), while 3 occurred in April, and 1 in June.
A total of 87 duplicate cases were removed from the cumulative tally, including 4 recoveries, the DOH said.
“Moreover, three (3) cases that were previously reported to have recovered have been validated to have died and were included in the count of new deaths,” the agency added.
The Philippines has been logging at least 3,000 additional cases since July 30, following the easing of quarantine measures and the gradual opening up of the economy.
On Monday, the government reported a record-high of 6,958 new cases in a single day.
Asked why cases continue to increase, the DOH told ABS-CBN News, “We have seen an increase in cases since mid-June. This can be attributed to enhanced surveillance and increased testing capacity, which means we can now detect more cases more quickly.”
“However, the rise in cases is also a signal that the practice of minimum health standards should be strengthened," the agency said.
"We have continuously and strongly advised the use of masks, even at homes where there are elderlies and vulnerable groups, physical distancing, respiratory etiquette, and hand hygiene. These are the best measures to prevent infection.”
The health department also said it will be strengthening contact tracing, isolation, quarantine and testing efforts.
Concerns from medical societies and health workers groups prompted the government to impose stricter quarantine measures in Metro Manila and nearby provinces for two weeks until Aug. 18.
The DOH said this “timeout” will be used to recalibrate the country’s COVID-19 response.
Earlier, researchers from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas estimate that the country's COVID-19 cases may reach 150,000 by the end of August.
The country recorded its first case of the disease on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China, where the novel coronavirus is believed to have been first detected late last year.