DOH to separate numbers of fresh COVID-19 cases from backlog
MANILA, Philippines – After a public uproar over the government’s decision to place Metro Manila — the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic — under a general community quarantine, the Department of Health (DOH) will change the way it releases data on COVID-19 patients.
Instead of releasing the numbers in one sweep, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that they would separate data on fresh coronavirus-infected patients and the backlog, so as not to create an impression that COVID-19 cases are on the rise again.
“Kung noon ang ipinapakita namin ang simpleng bilang lang ng mga pumapasok at naba-validate na kaso ng epidemiology bureau, simula po ngayon ay hahatiin na po namin ang mga numero para ipakita kung ilan sa mga ito ay fresh o newly-validated case kada araw at ihihiwalay na rin po namin kung ilan naman ang late o nagmula lamang sa delayed reporting,” Vergeire said in DOH’s briefing.
(If before we are showing a simple count of the data and the cases validated by the epidemiology bureau, starting today, we would split the number of cases to show which are fresh or newly-validated cases per day, and the late cases or those from delayed reportings.)
“Batid po namin na ang pagiging teknikal ng mga numerong ating pinalalabas ay isa sa mga dahilan ng hindi pagkaka-unawaan, na paminsa’y maaaring magdulot ng takot at pangamba na muli na naman tayong bumalik sa ECQ,” she added.
(We understand that the technicality of the numbers we are releasing have been the cause of confusion, which sometimes can lead to fears that we are transitioning back to an ECQ.)
Due to the changes, DOH would present the latest COVID-19 data around 9:00 p.m. on Friday.
Vergeire’s statement came as DOH clarified that only 109 of the record-high 539 COVID-19 cases recorded last Thursday were fresh cases, while the rest of the patients were part of the case backlog.
This was after government critics slammed the decision to downgrade quarantine measures despite the supposed highest single-day jump of cases since COVID-19 reached the Philippines shores.
On Thursday night, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the shift of Metro Manila and other areas like Davao City, Cagayan Valley, Central Luzon, Calabarzon, Pangasinan, Albay, from a modified ECQ to a general community quarantine (GCQ).
Meanwhile, a modified version of the GCQ would be enforced for the rest of the country.
Vergeire clarified that these step by the national government was not just based on the number of cases, but was also borne from several factors.
“Gusto po nating i-emphasize na sa desisyon para mag-GCQ, marami pong factors ang tinignan. Hindi lamang po ang bilang ng mga kaso; kabilang dito ay ang number of deaths, ang case doubling time, at ang critical care utilization rate,” Vergeire noted.
(We want to emphasize that the decision to shift to a GCQ, several factors were considered. We are not just basing on the count of cases, but we include the number of deaths, the case doubling time, and the critical care utilization rate.)
“Kung pababa ang number of deaths, mas mahaba ang case doubling time, at mababa ang ating critical care utilization rate, mas gumaganda po ang sitwasyon ng ating bansa,” she added.
(If the death toll is going down, if case doubling time and the critical care utilization rate is lower, then we can say that the country’s situation is getting better.)
As of Thursday, health authorities said there were now 15,588 COVID-19 patients in the Philippines, 921 of which have died while 3,598 have recovered.
Worldwide, there are now 5.705 million cases, with 355,934 people dead and 2.360 million patients-recoveries.
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