WHO, DOH say PH inclusion in top 20 countries with most COVID cases not cause for worry

Kristine Sabillo, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 12 2020 06:59 PM

Commuters ride a passenger utility jeepney in Manila on September 14, 2020, as the transportation department eases the physical distancing rule in public transport systems. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA — The Department of Health (DOH) on Monday said the Philippines ranking 18th among countries with the most number of COVID-19 cases is not a cause for worry since it is not reflective of the country's current situation as regards the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) representative to the Philippines, the relatively high number of confirmed infections in the country is mainly due to its large population and increased testing capacity.

“Huwag po dapat tayo matakot na pang-labing walo tayo,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing. “Kailangan makita natin ilan ang napapagaling natin. Ilan po ba ang nababawas sa ganyan kadaming numero."

(We should not be afraid that we’re 18th. We should also look at how many have recovered, how many have been removed from the large tally.)

As of 6 p.m. Monday, the Philippines' 342,816 cumulative total of confirmed COVID-19 cases pushed the country up to the 18th spot among countries being monitored by the US-based Johns Hopkins University for their respective caseloads.

At a Laging Handa briefing, WHO Country Representative Rabindra Abeyasinghe said, “The number of cases reported in a country is dependent on its population size and its capacity to detect.”

He pointed out that the Philippines is the 12th or 13th country with the largest population in the world.

“And from a testing capacity, (the Philippines has) a significantly higher testing capacity than other countries in this part of the region,” he said.

Abeyasinghe also noted that the Philippines had a much lower number of fatalities compared to other countries.

“You have to look at it a comprehensive perspective,” he said of the global tally of COVID-19 cases.

Vergeire pointed out that the ranking is based on the cumulative number of cases or those tallied since the start of the pandemic.

“Kailangan ang makita natin yung aktibong kaso po. Kasi yan pong total number of cases natin, 82% po dyan nakarecover na at meron tayo sa ngayon na 1.8% na mga namatay,” she explained.

(We should look at the active cases. Because of the total number of cases, 82% have already recovered and around 1.8% have died.)

She said current infections are now only at around 15 percent.

The DOH reported Monday that the active cases in the country are 43,332, of which, 83.9 percent have mild symptoms, 10.8 percent are asymptomatic, 3.6 percent are in critical condition, and 1.7 percent are severe cases.

The total recoveries are 293,152, while the death toll is 6,332

“It has to be taken on a comprehensive and complete analysis when we look at these numbers para po hindi natatakot ang ating mga kababayan (so our citizens won’t be scared),” said Vergeire, adding that the capability of the health system to care for patients should also be taken into consideration.

Based on the latest COVID-19 tracker report of the DOH, more than 3.8 million individuals have already been tested in the country of over 100 million people since the pandemic reached the Philippines in late January.

The country's accredited testing laboratories have also increased to 134.

Of the 1,270 facilities for COVID-19 patients, bed occupancy is at 44.6 percent.