PH had highest new COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia during surge — ex DOH chief

This photo taken on April 6, 2021 shows a relative wearing personal protective equipment attending to a family member with COVID-19 at a makeshift ward in a hospital in Manila. – More contagious variants of the coronavirus have been blamed for a record surge in infections in Metro Manila that has overwhelmed hospitals and sent the national capital region into lockdown. (Photo by JAM STA ROSA / AFP)

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines had the highest number of daily confirmed new COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia during its recent surge of coronavirus infections attributed partly to the more transmissible SARS-CoV-2 variants, former Health Secretary Dr. Esperanza Cabral said Saturday.

During a town hall event organized by the 1Sambayan coalition, Cabral said the number of daily new confirmed cases in the Philippines was even higher than that of the more populous Indonesia.

“Ang katotohanan ay ang Pilipinas has the highest daily confirmed new cases in Southeast Asia dito sa panahon ng surge na ito. Mas marami pa kaysa sa Indonesia that has twice the population of the Philippines and certainly mas marami sa ibang bansa na mas maliit ang populasyon,” she said.

(The truth is the Philippines has the highest number of daily confirmed new cases in Southeast Asia during this surge. It is even higher than that of Indonesia that has twice the population of the Philippines, and certainly higher than in other countries with smaller populations.)

The information presented by Cabral during the event was sourced from the COVID-19 data of the Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Systems Science and Engineering. The data was not based on the number of cases per population of each country.

Cabral pointed out that of the over 1 million COVID-19 cases in the Philippines, around 500,000 were reported from early 2020 to February 2021 while the other 500,000 were from March and April this year.

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“So talagang napakatindi ng pagtaas ng mga dami ng nagkakaroon ng COVID nitong dalawang buwan na nakalipas, (the number of people who had COVID-19 these past two months is really high) ” she added.

She said this is perhaps the reason why the Presidential Communications Operations Office issued a memorandum directing government media platforms to “convey to the public that the Philippines is faring better than many other countries in addressing the pandemic” and “carry regular updates about the world data on COVID-19.”

“Medyo nasasaktan na siguro ang pamahalaan natin sa lahat ng batikos na natatanggap nila at sa mga nagsasabi na kulang at hindi tama ang ating pandemic response,” she added.

(Maybe the government is already getting hurt by the criticism it is receiving from those who say the country’s pandemic response is lacking.)

The Philippines has already recorded a total of 1,094,849 COVID-19 cases as of Saturday, composed of 63,376 active cases (6,979 new), 10,179 recoveries, and 170 deaths.

This is the sixth consecutive day that the country registered a daily rise in coronavirus cases below 8,000. COVID-19 cases soared from the previous 1,000 cases in January to over 10,000 in early April amid the detection of more transmissible variants of the virus.

The Department of Health earlier said it is unfair to compare the Philippines to other countries that have better health systems in assessing government responses to the COVID-19 pandemic.