Virus threat far from over, but DOH notes ‘improvement’
MANILA, Philippines — While it now takes longer for the number of coronavirus cases in the country to double, the Department of Health (DOH) on Tuesday advised the public against complacency, saying the threat was far from over.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said it would now take five days for the recorded number of coronavirus cases to double, a “marked improvement” given that last week the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases said the doubling time was three days.
She noted though that this was still far from the DOH goal of a doubling time of 30 days. Under that scenario, the current 6,599 total cases should double to 13,198 only by May 21.
Concentrated in Metro Manila
Vergeire said infection also remained to be largely concentrated in Metro Manila, which accounted for nearly 70 percent of total cases, or 4,600.
“While there are cases in other areas in the country, there are around 30 provinces which do not have cases or the rate of increase is slow,” she said.
She stressed that the public should not see these improvements as permanent given what was happening in other countries, like Singapore, where a second wave of infection had been reported.
“We have seen how treacherous the coronavirus can be, especially if the public has forgotten to practice physical distancing, frequent hand-washing, cough etiquette and cleaning of surfaces. So we should not be complacent,” Vergeire said.
On Tuesday, the DOH recorded 140 new cases. The number of recovered patients increased to 654 with the recovery of 41 patients. But the death toll slightly went up to 437 as nine more patients died.
On questions on why new cases continue to be reported despite the Luzon lockdown, Vergeire explained that the measure’s goal was to keep the daily number of coronavirus cases at a manageable level for the country’s health system.
As of Tuesday, she said the DOH had completed the conversion of the Philippine International Convention Center as a quarantine. The 294-bed care center will be used once the 262 beds of the Las Piñas Rehabilitation Center, Quezon Institute and Rizal Memorial Coliseum have been filled.
Similarly, the National Government Administration Center in New Clark City has begun taking in coronavirus patients. The converted center can accommodate 688 patients.
According to Vergeire, these quarantines were lauded by the 12-member Chinese medical team that recently visited the country to assess the DOH’s coronavirus response. She, however, did not provide details on the recommendations of the team.
“The DOH is seriously considering their recommendations and these have been forwarded to our technical offices which would craft policy actions,” she said.
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