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WHO denies giving assessment that PH has fastest-rising cases in region

/ 04:44 PM June 30, 2020

Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative in the Philippines, discusses the country’s COVID-19 response during the Laging Handa briefing. (Screenshot from PTV)

MANILA, Philippines — The World Health Organization on Tuesday clarified that it did not make the assessment that the Philippines has the fastest rise in COVID-19 cases in the Western Pacific region.

The WHO country representative to the Philippines, however, did not contest the data culled by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which came out with the report over the weekend that the country had the fastest rise in COVID-19 cases in the Western Pacific region.

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“The World Health Organization never made such a comment or an assessment,” Abeyangsinghe said in a televised briefing when sought for comment on how WHO came up with the findings.

“The World Health Organization actually has a dashboard with a number of cases. What happened was that a journalist… used that dashboard and interpreted it in this way,” he went on.

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The Inquirer report was based on the daily COVID-19 cases gathered from member states by the WHO Western Pacific region.

Data in the region, which includes the Philippines, showed that when quarantine measures were eased starting May 15, cases in the country totaled 5,606 on the morning of May 31. Comparatively, Singapore had 9,020 and China 72. By June 1 to 15, total cases in these countries are as follows: 8,706 (Philippines), 6,238 (Singapore), and 177 (China).

As indicated in the WHO report, written June 27, the Philippines logged 8,143 new cases since June 16, the highest among the 22-member countries belonging to the Western Pacific bloc. Singapore was a far second with 2,351 new cases during the same period, while China had 302.

Since the Philippines began easing restrictions on May 15, there had been a total of 22,935 new cases, including the 738 new infections Saturday. This represents almost 66 percent of the nationwide total then of 34,803.

But while WHO did not contest any of the data specified in the Inquirer report, it took issue with the attribution of statements to the organization.

“It is not the World Health Organization that did this. I’ve seen a lot of comments and commentaries and points of view that the World Health Organization did this. The World Health Organization does not compare countries or make such assessments,” he said.

“It is unfair to say that the WHO did that comment or assessment. We did not,” he added.

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A perusal of the published report, however, showed that it did not attribute any statement or assessment to WHO, except for a citation made on the publicly available WHO data.

EDV

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TAGS: coronavirus Philippines, COVID-19, lockdown, Western Pacific region, World Health Organization
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