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Now Reading: NEW RECORD INFECTIONS | Philippines virus cases jump to record; WHO PH notes weak contact tracing
NEW RECORD INFECTIONS | Philippines virus cases jump to record; WHO PH notes weak contact tracing
July 3, 2020 , 06:29 PM

(July 03, 2020) – The Philippines on Friday reported a total of 1,531 cases of new coronavirus infections, the biggest single day increase for the country, pushing the tally to more than 40,000.

But the Philippine office of the World Health Organization (WHO) noted the country’s weak contact tracing, and the “worrying phenomenon” increases of cases outside the capital region.

The Department of Health (DOH) on Friday reported 688 fresh cases, with 255 coming from Metro Manila, 138 coming from Central Visayas, 271 from other areas, and 24 from repatriates.

A total of 843 cases were considered to be late cases.

The all-time high in single day increase comes a day after the DOH only reported 294 additional cases, as Region VII–an emerging hotspot for COVID-19–did not provide updates.

Not all laboratories were also able to send their reports.

The Department of Health also recorded 400 new recoveries on July 03, with the total at 11,073.

Six infected people have died this month, bringing the death toll to 1,280.

MORE TESTING, MORE CASES

The DOH report of breaching the 40,000 mark comes three days after the University of the Philippines (UP) projected for it to happen at the end of June.

Actual positive tests received on July 01 actually reached 50,077, but the DOH was only able to report around 38,000 at that time due to backlog in validation.

UP then projected that, barring further interventions, cases could reach 60 to 70,000 by the end of July.

But WHO Philippines director Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said people should be careful in looking at the numbers.

“More testing means we will detect more cases. That should not frighten us,” Abeyasinghe said in a virtual briefing on Friday, “It is good that cases are being detected in large numbers because of the expansion in testing capacity.”

Abeyasinghe said lauded the government for using the lockdown to expand testing capacity and expand health care facilities.

He also noted that the aim was to maintain or lower the proportion of positive cases to individuals tested at around 7 percent.

The latest figure from DOH though, as of July 1, showed that the daily positivity rate of the Philippines went up to 8.5 percent.

WEAK CONTACT TRACING

While WHO Philippines lauded the government for expanded testing, it noted several weaknesses in the pandemic response, particularly in contact tracing and in implementation of quarantine rules.

“The expansion of testing capacity needs to be also accompanied by expansion of contact tracing, case investigation and isolation of cases. Otherwise we will not harvest the full benefit.” Abeyasinghe said, “Contact tracing and isolation capacity has not been keeping pace with the expansion of testing capacity.”

He said the public has not been completely compliant in following protocols, “People have not followed orders, people have been reluctant in isolating themselves. This has resulted in an increase of cases within their own community.”

‘WORRYING PHENOMENON

Abeyasinghe said the spike of infections outside the capital region due to the return of stranded individuals and overseas workers was a “worrying phenomenon”.

He noted the particular increase in CALABARZON, Central Luzon, Eastern Visays, Northern Mindanao, and SOCCSKSARGEN.

“Infections in new regions are being influenced by people traveling from infected areas where there is active transmission,” Abeyasinghe warned.

“These people require quarantine and testing so that they do not introduce new infections in their own provinces.”

The WHO Philippines made the statement a day before the government is set to ferry some 4,000 stranded residents to their hometowns in Luzon and Mindanao.

But the government assured that the stranded individuals would carry a medical clearance certificate from rapid testing, before they could go back home. (Katrina Elaine Alba/MM)

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