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119,460 CASES

Philippines overtakes Indonesia as Southeast Asia’s COVID-19 hotspot

The Philippines on Thursday overtook Indonesia as the hotspot of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Southeast Asia after the Department of Health (DOH) announced 3,561 new cases, raising the total to 119,460.

Indonesia logged 1,882 new cases also on Thursday for a total of 118,753, according to The Jakarta Post.

This marks the eighth consecutive day during which over 3,000 new cases were reported.

The five provinces with the highest number of new cases were Metro Manila with 2,041, Laguna with 222, Cebu with 221, Cavite with 100, and Rizal with 81.

Among the new cases, 2,740 caught the virus from July 24 to August 6, 716 contracted COVID-19 between July 1 and 23, 63 fell ill in June, 11 got sick in May, 22 in April, and nine in March.

Meanwhile, the total number of recoveries also rose to 66,837 after 569 more patients recovered from the respiratory disease, while the death toll climbed to 2,150 with 28 new fatalities.

Ten of the newly reported deaths occurred in August, 16 took place in July, while the remaining two died in June and May.

There are also 50,473 active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine, still the highest across Southeast Asia, 90.9 percent of which are mild, 7.8 percent are asymptomatic, 0.8 percent are severe, and 0.5 percent are in critical condition.

The DOH said figures reported on Thursday were based on data submitted by 89out of the 98 operational laboratories.

The department also removed 81 duplicate cases from the total tally of infections.

As of August 5, the Philippines had 75 certified polymerase chain reaction facilities and 24 GeneXpert laboratories that had tested a total of 1,546,104 individuals.

Fifty-five percent of intensive care unit beds for COVID-19 patients nationwide were also occupied while 31 percent of mechanical ventilators were in use.

The DOH earlier said it was scouting some 10,000 additional health workers to substitute for those currently at the frontlines who previously called for a two-week “timeout” amid the continued surge in infections.

Increased testing

According to Joseph Morong’s “24 Oras” report, coronavirus testing czar Vince Dizon attributed the surge in infections to the country’s increased testing capacity.

The National Task Force Against COVID-19 on Wednesday said the Philippines conducted more tests than six other Asian countries in July. 

The DOH, however, noted that ongoing community transmission is also playing a part in the continued rise in cases.

“There is ongoing community transmission. This means that it is becoming harder to clearly identify who infected our new cases or from which venues they are getting the infection,” the DOH said.

“However, our current data on clustering showed that these infections are mostly coming from the community, such as our households and from interactions and contacts with other residents,” the department added.

Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the government’s COVID-19 response, earlier said that workplaces are some of the most “critical areas” where significant transmission occurs, alongside public transportation vehicles. 

Dizon also said that the government isolated over 1,000 confirmed cases in two weeks.

“Sa loob ng dalawang linggo, mahigit isang libo na ang naa-isolate natin sa NCR at meron pa sa Region IV-A kaya tayo ay kumuha na ng mga karagdagang facilities… Sa kasalukuyan meron tayong mga 1,700 rooms at halos 1,400 na ang occupied ngayon,” he told a news conference.

The government also launched the “One Hospital Command” earlier on Thursday to facilitate the seamless referral of COVID-19 patients. —LDF, GMA News