Philippines confirms 3,375 new COVID-19 cases; total tops 276,000

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 17 2020 04:06 PM | Updated as of Sep 17 2020 05:08 PM

Philippines confirms 3,375 new COVID-19 cases; total tops 276,000 1
Churchgoers attend the first mass at the Manila Cathedral as it reopens to the public after 6 months on September 16 2020 amid the coronavirus pandemic. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Philippines on Thursday reported 3,375 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the total to 276,289 six months since the government first imposed a massive lockdown in the country to curb the spread of the infectious disease.

This is the 10th straight day that the daily tally of cases was more than 3,000. Six months ago, or on March 17, the main island of Luzon, home to nearly half of the country's 100 million population, was placed under Enhanced Community Quarantine in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Of Thursday's new cases, 963 came from the National Capital Region, the epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak in the country which remains under General Community Quarantine.

The Department of Health (DOH) also recorded 317 additional recovered patients, or a total of 208,096 recoveries.

The death toll climbed by 53 to 4,785. More than half, or 68% of the deaths occurred this month.
Currently, the country's active infections are 63,408.

The DOH said the following testing laboratories were not able to submit data in time for the daily case update:

  1. Dr. Jorge P. Royeca Hospital
  2. Dr. Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital and Sanitarium (TALA) - GeneXpert Laboratory
  3. Kaiser Medical Center Inc.
  4. Lanao del Norte Covid-19 Testing Laboratory
  5. 5. Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center
  6. Las Piñas General Hospital and Satellite Trauma Center
  7. Philippine Airport Diagnostic Laboratory
  8. St. Luke's Medical Center - Global City - Genexpert Laboratory
  9. Taguig City Molecular Laboratory
  10. Valenzuela Hope Molecular Laboratory

The agency has granted accreditation to over a hundred laboratories for COVID-19 testing.

Meanwhile, the DOH said it removed 19 duplicate cases, including 11 tagged as recovered, from its previous tally.

“In addition, there's one (1) recovered case found to be negative and was removed from the total case count after final validation,” it added.

The DOH said it also found out that 67 cases previously reported as recovered turned out to be 11 deaths and 56 active cases.

The Philippines logged record-high numbers in terms of new COVID-19 cases starting late July, following the easing of quarantine measures and the gradual opening up of the economy. 

It momentarily dipped to just around 1,000 to 2,000 cases during the first month of September, leading many to believe that the cases were on a declining trend.

However, the daily number of additional cases again went up to the 3,000 to 4,000 level more than a week ago, which the DOH initially attributed to laboratories catching up on their delayed reporting.

But on Wednesday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they are also looking at such other factors as community transmission and increased COVID-19 clusters in various parts of the country. They also attributed some of the increase to expanded testing.

Despite the large number of cases, which has made the Philippines the country with the most number of COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia, Vergeire said the country was faring better in terms of hospital bed utilization.

She also said that government response to the pandemic is improving.

The Philippines' first confirmed case was reported on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the disease is believed to have first emerged.

There have been 29.87 million people infected with COVID-19, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard. Of those, 940,000 have died and almost 20.32 million have recovered.