DOH explains spike in virus cases
Did the government decide wrong to ease quarantine measures in Metro Manila on the same day it reported a record spike in new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases?
The Department of Health (DOH) maintained on Friday that just because the country recorded on Thursday its largest single-day increase in the number of COVID-19 cases, it “doesn’t mean that the situation is worsening.”
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that of the 539 new cases reported, only 109 were “fresh cases” involving patients who tested positive in the last three days for the SARS-CoV-2 virus which causes the severe respiratory disease.
The remaining 430 are “late cases,” involving patients with positive results from last week.
Of the 17 reported deaths, Vergeire pointed out that some of the patients died as early as March.
She emphasized that in the last few weeks the DOH has already observed a decline in the number of COVID-19-related deaths.
The health official’s latest report did not provide a breakdown of when those patients died.
But the largest single-day increase in deaths was recorded on March 31, when 30 patients died, she said.
Earlier, that date became significant for having the highest reported number of deaths at 538, before the 539 that the DOH reported on Thursday.
According to Vergeire, one of the reasons why there was a sudden increase in the number of reported cases and deaths was because it was only on Thursday that laboratory results and patient information were submitted to the department and validated by its epidemiology bureau.
“The validation process ensures we would not have any double counting [of cases]. Our reporting largely depends on how early hospitals or local government units submit the data to us. Once we receive the data, we validate it within the day,” Vergeire said.
The validation process this week has also seen marked improvement, she said, as it shifted to an automated process and increased the number of disease surveillance officers in charge of validating cases.
As of Friday night, the DOH reported a total of 16,634 cases with the addition of 1,046 cases. Of these cases 1,000 were positive from four days ago and earlier, while only 46 were from the last three days.
Total number of recoveries increased to 3,720 with an additional 122 patients. Deaths were at 942 as 21 patients succumbed to the disease.
On Thursday President Rodrigo Duterte announced on television the National Capital Region’s shift to the more relaxed general community quarantine.
Noting that there were 11,069 active cases, Mr. Duterte himself reported that Metro Manila accounted for 61 percent or 330 out of the 539 cases.
“Now the recoveries, 92 new ones, with the total of something like 3,598 [recoveries] to date. Deaths are at 921. So you would see that the Philippines has ratio and proportion vis-à-vis with the population. We have a low rate of mortality here in this country,” the President said.
“Then we have Region VI, 55 [cases]; others, 99 [cases]. Repatriates, those who were brought here, 55 [new cases]. All in all, for me, it’s not so bad,” Mr. Duterte said.
Vergeire made an assurance that based on the current metrics on the case, mortality doubling time and critical care utilization rate, the department is seeing good indications warranting the easing of strict measures.
“Deaths based on the date of death and not the date of reporting are declining. This is good news because studies showed that a continued decline is a good indication that the epidemic is peaking,” she said.
Vergeire said that from hereon they would sort out the data they present to the public, indicating which are new cases and which are belatedly reported. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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