MANILA, Philippines – The Philippines’ coronavirus cases rose to 33,069 on Thursday, June 25, with the addition of 778 new cases, announced the Department of Health (DOH).
Of these new cases, over half or 452 were from Metro Manila, still the region most hard-hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, 106 or 14% came from Central Visayas, which encompasses Cebu City, the only locality under lockdown or enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The death toll also rose as the DOH reported 8 new fatalities. The number of deaths is now at 1,212. The number of people who recovered from the disease rose by 255 bringing the total recuperated persons to 8,910.
Lockdown decision looms
The officials of the Inter-agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases are closely watching the new coronavirus numbers given the looming decision on whether to extend, ramp up, or lift quarantine measures in different parts of the country on July 1.
Metro Manila, the first region to go on lockdown, has stayed under the more relaxed general community quarantine from June 1 to June 30. Cebu City is under lockdown until June 30.
Asked about the fate of Metro Manila after June 30, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said the IATF is yet to make a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It is still too early to conclude because we need to study the data and there are some remaining days before July 1,” Año said in a virtual press briefing.
Meanwhile, the task force has just begun its evaluation of Cebu City’s efforts to manage the spread of the virus. Duterte tasked Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu to oversee this. The national government also deployed soldiers and Special Action Forces troopers to strictly enforce checkpoints, mask-wearing, and physical distancing.
The steady rise in cases, both fresh and old, take place weeks after the easing of quarantine restrictions, including the partial resumption of public transportation in Metro Manila.
Testing czar Vince Dizon said earlier on Thursday that the increase could also be partly explained by ramped up testing. The government said it has done a total of 612,571 tests as of June 22 – almost double the tests conducted in May, which was then at 348,964.
Of the total 580,560 individuals tested (different from the number of tests since multiple tests can be done for a single person), 40,084 people tested positive. This gives a positivity rate of 6.9%.
The World Health Organization has said a positivity rate of 10% or lower is ideal.
But due to the still low testing capacity of the Philippines, especially in comparison to other Asian countries like Vietnam and South Korea, the numbers still say little about the overall state of the virus’ spread.
Dizon said the government will now be able to ramp up testing after the arrival of one million testing supplies last June 21. This is the first of a bulk order of 10 million test kits.
The government aims to conduct one million tests by July. – Rappler.com