PH posts 15,592 new COVID-19 cases amid low testing output

Job Manahan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 22 2021 05:33 PM | Updated as of Sep 22 2021 08:22 PM

Catholic devotees attend mass at the St. Peter Parish: Shrine of Leaders Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News
Catholic devotees attend mass at the St. Peter Parish: Shrine of Leaders in Quezon City on September 19, 2021, the first Sunday under the new alert level system piloted in Metro Manila. Mark Demayo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATED) - The Philippines' total COVID-19 cases on Wednesday rose by 15,592 to 2,417,419, the Department of Health (DOH) said. 

Of the cumulative total, 162,580 or 6.7 percent are active cases, the health department's latest bulletin showed. 

The ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group (IRG) said the number of those still battling the disease is the lowest since Sept. 8.

"It is the 20th straight day that the number of active cases is above 150,000," the researchers noted.

The Philippines is fighting one of Asia's worst coronavirus outbreak, as it struggles to contain the growth of new infections likely driven by the COVID-19 Delta variant, which is also ripping through the country's health care system. 

The positivity rate is 24.9 percent, based on the test results of 53,349 individuals screened for the disease on Monday. 

"Testing output last September 20 is only 53,349 compared to the 73,904 average daily testing output for the last 7 days," the DOH said in its bulletin.

With the disclaimer considered, the ABS-CBN's research team said the day's cases is the lowest in 3 weeks, or since Sept. 1 when the country had 14,216 cases.

COVID-related deaths increased by 154 to 37,228. This is the 11th straight day that newly announced fatalities were more than 100, according to ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido.

Wednesday's fatalities included 89 cases first classified as recoveries, DOH said.

Recoveries, meanwhile, climbed by 24,059 to 2,217,611, comprising 91.7 percent of the total.

Four laboratories failed to submit data on time. 

The DOH added that a total of 89 duplicates have been excluded from the running tally, 59 of which are recoveries.

HEALTHCARE UTILIZATION RATE, CASES

The country's intensive care unit (ICU) beds utilization rate is at 78 percent. In Metro Manila, the ICU bed rate is at 77 percent.

Ward beds are currently 72 percent occupied nationwide, while ward beds in the capital region is at 71 percent.

OCTA Research fellow. Dr. Guido David earlier in the day said Metro Manila posted a -18 percent virus growth rate from 11 percent in the previous week, with the reproduction number (R) further falling to 1.03 from 1.33 during the same period. 

The R number indicates the rate of spread of the disease. An R value above 1 can lead to exponential growth.

But ABS-CBN analyst Guido earlier said the public should not be confident about the positive development. 

He noted that the relatively fewer COVID-19 cases in recent days could be attributed to the stricter lockdowns imposted in the past few weeks. 

"Alam natin na 'yung numbers na ito, it's because of the ECQ in August and then the MECQ na umabot ng halos isang buwan. Ngayong nag-shift na tayo sa GCQ with alert levels, so posibleng magbago pa yung trend by the end of the month or by October," he explained. 

(We know that these numbers is because of the ECQ in August and the MECQ that spanned more than a month. But because we shifted to GCQ with alert levels, it is possible that the trend could change by the end of the month or by October.)

Government aims to inoculate 70 percent of the country's 109 people before the year ends to achieve herd immunity and safely reopen the economy. 

At least 19 million people in the country have been fully vaccinated so far. 

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- With a report from Raphael Bosano, ABS-CBN News; Reuters