'We are on track,' Palace says even as Philippines reports record-high COVID cases

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 24 2021 03:08 PM

People wait outside the Pasay City General Hospital on Aug. 21, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
People wait outside the Pasay City General Hospital on Aug. 21, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — Malacañang said on Tuesday the Philippines is "on track" in its battle against the COVID-19 crisis, despite recording its highest ever daily tally of infections and the possible community transmission of the highly contagious Delta variant in Metro Manila. 

The Department of Health on Monday reported a record 18,332 COVID-19 infections, just days after the Aug. 6-20 lockdown of the capital region. Of those, 4,805 are in Metro Manila.

The enhanced community quarantine of Metro Manila was projected to keep cases below 20,000, said Palace spokesman Harry Roque. 

"We are within projection, for as long as we do not exceed 20,000 [new cases] per day. That is the projection," he said in a press briefing. "Kung ang iniisip n'yo iyong ECQ will result in a drastic reduce in cases, hindi po 'yan ang projection." 

(If you are thinking that ECQ will result in a drastic reduction in cases, that is not the projection.) 

"I would say we are on track," added the official.

Large numbers of Delta variant cases for which the source could not be traced had been detected in the capital region and nearby provinces, the health department said in a statement on Monday. 

Authorities have for several weeks attributed the current rise in cases to the Delta variant, but genome sequencing capacity in the Philippines is limited, with only a few thousand samples processed weekly.

On Monday, the country's genome center said it had detected an additional 466 Delta variant cases, bringing the number of people confirmed to be carrying the variant to 1,273.

"Unlike iyong naunang variant po, talaga namang nakakahawa itong variant na ito," Roque said of the Delta variant. "Hindi naman tayo pupuwedeng mag-total lockdown na naman dahil kinakailangan naman makapagtrabaho nang hindi magutom ang karamihan ng ating mga kababayan." 

(Unlike the earlier variant, Delta is more contagious. We cannot go on another total lockdown because most of our compatriots need to work so they would not starve.)

"But we are on track by way of our projections," he reiterated.

Roque acknowledged that the health care capacity has reached the high-risk category, both nationally and within Metro Manila, at 73 and 72 percent, respectively. 

But he said less than 2 percent of COVID-19 sufferers need to be hospitalized. 

"Hindi pa po tayo critical. Kaya pa nating alagaan yong mga magkakasakit. That is what we mean by living with the virus," he added. 

(We are not yet critical. We can still take care of those who get sick.) 

The Philippines has recorded a total of 1.86 million COVID-19 cases, a fifth of which were detected over the last 40 days. Nearly 32,000 people in the Philippines have died with COVID-19, according to official data.

The number of active cases in the country increased to a 4-month high of 130,350, the DOH added. Of those recently tested, 1 in 4 tested positive, it said. 

— With a report from Reuters 

Video courtesy of RTVM