Philippines records 4,444 new COVID-19 cases; total tops 143,000

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 12 2020 04:04 PM | Updated as of Aug 12 2020 05:35 PM

MANILA — The Philippines' health department on Wednesday reported 4,444 additional COVID-19 cases, raising to 143,749 the country's cumulative tally of infections.

It is the 5th highest number of additional COVID-19 cases in the Philippines reported in a single day.

The active cases, which refer to patients who are still infected with COVID-19 and are staying either in the hospital or under home quarantine, are 72,348.

It is higher than the total recoveries, which grew by 636 to 68,997.

Meanwhile, 93 additional COVID-related deaths were also reported, bringing the total number of fatalities to 2,404. This is the 3rd highest number of new deaths in a day since the start of the pandemic.

Of the additional deaths, only 13 occurred this month. There were 49 in July, 30 in June and 1 in May. Many of the late reported deaths were from Region 7 (30 in June, and 34 in July).

Wednesday's additional cases were collated from data submitted by 91 out of 100 accredited testing laboratories.

Of the new infections, 2,618 are from Metro Manila, 233 from Laguna, 227 from Cavite, 174 from Rizal, and 129 from Bulacan. The five areas have been placed under modified enhanced community quarantine from Aug. 4 to 18 in response to appeals by various groups of health professionals for.a "time-out" amid the notable quick surge of COVID-19 cases.

Majority (74%) of the additional cases were from the last 2 weeks. More than half (57%) of these recent cases are from Metro Manila, followed by Region 4A (18%) and Region 3 (6%).

Following the definition of fresh cases (test results released in the last 3 days) and late cases (test results released earlier than 3 days but only validated recently), there are 3,049 of the former and 1,395 of the latter among Wednesday's additional tally.

The Department of Health removed 231 duplicate cases from the previous tally, including 9 marked as recovered and 1 death. 

“In addition, two (2) cases were found to be negative and were removed from the total case count after final validation. Moreover, we updated the health status of the 62 cases that were previously reported as recovered but after final validation, they were deaths (60) and active (2) cases,” the DOH added.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire attributed the surge in COVID-19 cases to community transmission due to the easing of quarantine measures and expansion of testing protocol.

“Starting latter part of June, tumataas ang mga kaso sa ating bansa, especially nung nag-ease tayo ng restrictions,” she said during a virtual briefing Wednesday morning.

(Starting the latter part of June, the number of cases in the country increased, especially when we eased restrictions.)

The spike in COVID-19 cases, as Metro Manila and other areas were under the more lenient general community quarantine (GCQ) until Aug. 4, prompted doctors to call for stricter measures and changes in strategy. 

Vergeire said the positive effects of the stricter measures through the MECQ in Metro Manila and four of its neighboring provinces, and the recalibration of the COVID-19 response won’t be seen until 3 to 4 weeks later.

Starting July 30, additional COVID-19 cases further increased to at least 3,000 a day. It only went below 3,000 on Tuesday when only 74 out of 99 accredited testing laboratories submitted data.

Researchers from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas have estimated that the country's COVID-19 cases may reach 150,000 by the end of August. The forecast hasn't been updated yet.