May 30, 2020 – The Philippines on Saturday said it was defeating the pandemic as the rate of infection has slowed down despite rising numbers of cases reported every day, a senior health official said.
On Friday, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said a total of 1,046 cases was reported, the highest single day surge of infection since the outbreak in late January, but it included old cases week ago.
Vergeire, in a virtual news briefing on Saturday, said the period of time for the cases to double is now almost a week, compared to three to four days last month.
But she did not say the basis for the analysis since the health department faced huge backlog in the number of cases to be tested.
She also said the health capacity system has improved. “Hindi nasasagad ang paggamit ng ICU beds at ventilators. Hindi natin na-ooverwhelm ang ating health care system, maganda ang indikasyon ng mga numero,” she said.
The health department usually provides the daily update on confirmed cases by 4pm. But on Saturday afternoon, Vergeire did not update the case bulletin, but they proceeded to explain further the new terminologies they introduced on Friday night.
Of the 1,046 new cases reported on May 29, the DOH insisted that only 46 were considered ‘fresh’ cases–or those with test results released within three days. The remaining 1,000 were considered ‘late’ cases, or those whose test results were released more than four days ago.
“Yung way of reporting na ginagawa natin dati, inaakala natin na recent ang pagdami o paglobo ng kaso,” said public health epidemiologist Troy Gepte, “Kung gagamitin ang date of onset of illness, makikita kung kailan talaga nangyari ang impeksyon.”
Gepte said while there have been spikes in infections in April, he said things have changed this month. “Towards the end of May, bumababa ang bilang mga kaso. Isang hudyat na nakokontrol dahil sa ating health measures,” he added.
The Department of Health has been criticized for the backlog in validation of test results. On Thursday, 23,065 individuals have been reported to test positive for COVID-19. But the total confirmed coronavirus cases reported as of Friday was only 16,634.
This figure is different from the backlog which were tested but no results were available due to encoding problem.
Vergeire said the DOH was pleased with the recent Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey that majority of Filipinos wear face masks and observe social distancing when going out.
She advised that the public continue these measures as Metro Manila and other parts of the country will ease restrictions under General Community Quarantine (GCQ) next week.
“Kami ay nagpapaalala na kahit nasa GCQ, hindi ibig sabihin na relaxed din tayo sa protocols natin,” said Vergeire.
The DOH said they would release the case bulletin for the latest number of COVID-19 cases at 8pm.
(Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)
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