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Philippines records 16 new COVID-19 cases, tally now at 49


The Philippines’ confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases continued to climb on Wednesday after the Department of Health (DOH) tallied 16 newly confirmed infections, bringing the total to 49.

At a press briefing on Wednesday, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said health authorities were tracing the contacts of the confirmed cases.

Vergeire said eight of the 49 cases, including two repatriates from the coronavirus-hit Diamond Princess cruise ship, were in stable condition at various hospitals across the country.

She announced that 442 out of the 445 repatriates from the Diamond Princess cruise ship have been released from their 14-day quarantine.

Out of the 442 persons released from quarantine, 437 were crew members while five were passengers.

Patient 29, an 82-year-old Filipino woman, is currently intubated as she has underlying cardiovascular and endocrine problems.

She is the wife of Patient 9, an 86-year-old American male residing in Marikina City, while Patient 28 and Patient 30 are their relatives.

“Magkakamag-anak sila sa Marikina,” the assistant secretary said.

Three of the confirmed cases are in critical condition while the rest are stable, Vergeire added.

There are 31 possible COVID-19 cases still pending confirmation while 68 persons under investigation are still confined at various hospitals across the country, according to the DOH’s online case tracker.

The Philippines marked a sudden surge in COVID-19 infections on Monday after cases doubled to 20 overnight, a development that Vergeire attributed to the DOH’s improved surveillance system.

Classes in Metro Manila remain suspended until Saturday, March 14, after a pronouncement by President Rodrigo Duterte aimed at containing the spread of the virus.

Earlier in the day, a Malacañang official announced that state health insurer PhilHealth would shoulder the cost of COVID-19 testing fees on top of coverage of quarantine and isolation costs. 

The World Health Organization has said in a report that “most people infected with COVID-19 virus have mild disease and recover,” with an estimated 80 percent developing mild to moderate disease, 13.8 percent having severe disease, and 6.1 percent deteriorating to critical condition.

Confirmed cases in Metro Manila

San Juan Mayor Francis Zamora has disclosed that seven out of the 33 COVID-19 cases confirmed as of Tuesday are from their city. 

Marikina Mayor Marcelino Teodoro likewise confirmed that five out of the 33 COVID-19 cases as of Tuesday are residents of the city and family members of the Patient 9, an 86-year-old American.

Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte also announced that the number of COVID-19 cases in their city rose to four on Wednesday. 

Vergeire explained that all local chief executives base their announcements of new cases on data from the DOH.

“Ang sistema po, the DOH would be the one to do it first, to have its press conference… para ideklara ang numero ng mga positibong kaso,” she said.

“Mas maganda rin siguro kung ang ating local governments would have their press conference at sila po ang magre-release ng specific information.”

Confirmed cases outside the Philippines

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III earlier said that at least six foreigners tested positive for COVID-19 upon their return to their home countries after a trip to the Philippines.

Meanwhile, 96 Filipinos abroad have tested positive for COVID-19, according to Vergeire.

Out of the 96 Filipinos, 80 came from the Diamond Princess cruise ship and six from the Grand Princess cruise ship docked in the United States. Five are Hong Kong, three are in Singapore, and two are in the United Arab Emirates.

Vergeire said 64 of these Filipinos abroad have recovered from the disease: 62 from the Diamond Princess, one from Hong Kong, and one from Singapore.

The remaining Filipinos are still admitted to hospitals, but only one of the two in UAE is in critical condition. —NB/BM, GMA News