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PHL reports record-high 1,046 new infections as lockdown set to ease

30 May 2020

By Daisy CL Mandap

The Research Institure of Tropical Medicine (RITM) is where many Covid-19 patients in the Philippines are treated

The number of new Covid-19 cases in the Philippines soared to 1,046 today, May 29, for an overall tally of 16,634.

This was nearly double the previous day’s record-high of 539 new cases.

But even as the infection rate mounts, President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the country’s strict lockdown, regarded as the longest in the world, will be eased by next month.

Several areas including Metro Manila, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon and Calabarzon, the provinces of Albay and Pangasinan; as well as Davao City, will shift to general community quarantine by June 1.

This means, most businesses will be allowed to open and public transportation will return in a limited form.

In disclosing the latest Covid-19 figures, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, said only 46 were “fresh” cases while 1,000 were “late” cases, meaning the test results were released to patients after four days or longer.

Vergeire said there could be a further spike in the number of new cases being reported by next week, as more personnel have been hired to encode and validate cases.

She said that even with yesterday’s record daily tally, only 20% or 109 of the cases were newly validated.

But she did not explain why there has been a huge backlog in the release of the test results in the first place.
The UP-PGH Covid team with recovered patient, journalist Howie Severino, who donated blood plasma 
Her statement was immediately dismissed by medical experts, including Dr Gene Nisperos, an associate professor at the University of the Philippines Manila.

Mali po,” he said in a Facebook post. “Yung 430 dapat idinagdag sa numbers last week. So dapat, last week pa mataas ang bilang, hindi lang ngayon. At dahil may backlog pa rin, yung 109 na ‘fresh cases’ na yan ay dapat mas mataas pa kasi next week pa malalaman yung dapat na ni-rereport ninyo today. Nanggagago na po kayo.”

(That’s wrong. Those 430 cases should have been included in the numbers last week. So it means the numbers last week should already been high, and not just today. And since there is still a backlog, those 109 ‘fresh cases’ should be even higher because what you should be reporting today won’t be known until next week. You’re trying to make us look stupid)

In a subsequent post, he said: “In the first place, the DOH should have fixed its system so that there will be no backlog cases! These are every bit essential to informed decision-making.

“It is hard to believe that an entire government agency can be THIS incompetent. The bigger possibility is that its leaders are already manipulating the data to fit the Duterte regime's narrative,” he said.

People who get tested for the coronavirus in the Philippines are promised a result of no later than four days, which is far longer than in many countries, where the result of a swab test is released in a matter of hours, or one day.

Despite this, many of those tested, particularly overseas Filipino workers, have been made to wait not just weeks, but even months, before they could get their results.

The Philippines also lags behind many countries in the number of tests it has administered per capita.

DOH figures show that as of May 28, a total of 305,115 individuals have been tested, out of a population of more than 100 million, or just over 3%. The only countries in Asia that have lower test rates are Indonesia, Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Myanmar, Cambodia, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Laos, Afghanistan and Yemen.

The number of recoveries has also been relatively low, at just 3,720 or 22% of the total infections so far. The fatality rate of 942 amounts to 5% of the overall figure.

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