The uptick in new cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in the past few days was caused by the continued expansion of the country’s testing capacity and should not be a cause for concern, the Department of Health (DOH) said on Thursday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire explained that efforts to ramp up the country’s testing capacity will speed up the clearing of backlogs and lead to an increase in new cases in the following days.
“Hindi po ibig sabihin na dumadami ang mga bagong kaso. Ang ibig sabihin lang po ay natatapos nang i-proseso ang mga datos na naiwan nitong nakaraang linggo,” she said in a virtual press briefing.
The Philippines so far has 23 accredited COVID-19 laboratories which have tested 130,990 people as of Wednesday, 90 percent of whom turned out negative while 10 percent were positive.
The number of new COVID-19 cases reported daily has held steady between 100 and 300 for several weeks until the DOH announced 320 new infections on Wednesday, the first time that new cases breached the 300 mark since April 6.
On Thursday, the DOH reported 339 new cases, bringing the total to 10,343.
“Nais ko lang pong bigyang diin na hindi po natin ito dapat ikabahala,” Vergeire assured.
“Ang pagtaas ng bilang ng confirmed cases ng COVID-19, kasabay ng paglakas ng ating testing capacity, ay isang indikasyon na mas lumalakas pa po ang response measure at mas nagiging aggressive po tayo na mas makapagtest, detect, at isolate.”
Improving healthcare system
Vergeire said that the quarantine imposed over Metro Manila and other high-risk areas bought the country time to strengthen its healthcare system.
She added that the Philippines has relatively fewer cases compared to other countries such as the United States thanks to the lockdown that started on March 17.
“Dahil sa mababang bilang mga kaso sa Pilipinas, ang ating mga ospital at mga healthcare worker ay mas nabibigyang pansin ang pagpapagaling sa kumpirmadong kaso ng COVID-19,” the health official said.
The Philippines has the third-highest number of COVID-19 cases across Southeast Asia, trailing behind Singapore and Indonesia which reported over 20,000 and 12,000 cases, respectively, as of Wednesday. -NB, GMA News