Philippines coronavirus cases breach 36,000

Sofia Tomacruz
Philippines coronavirus cases breach 36,000
The Department of Health reports 985 new cases, while the death toll reaches 1,255

MANILA, Philippines – The number of coronavirus cases in the Philippines surpassed the 36,000-mark on Monday, June 29, after the Department of Health reported 985 new cases in the country.  

The increase in infections pushes the total number of confirmed cases to 36,438, edging closer to the 40,000 estimated cases experts had earlier projected by June 30, based on trends that showed a nationwide reproductive number of 1.2, indicating the pandemic was still spreading.  

The newly reported cases include 643 “fresh” cases and 342 “late” cases as the health department continues to clear its backlog of unvalidated tests over nearly a month to date. 

“Fresh” cases are characterized as tests results released to patients in the last 3 days, while “late” cases cover results released to patients 4 or more days ago.

The tally of deaths is now at 1,255, following 11 new fatalities counted on Monday.  

Recoveries increased to 9,956, with 270 more patients who have recovered from the disease. 

Virus continues to spread: Since the loosening of quarantine restrictions in June, cases remain on an upward trajectory with the Philippines recording as much as 500 to 1,000 new cases daily. Cases are largely concentrated in Metro Manila and Cebu City, which continue to be the country’s main battlegrounds in the outbreak. 

Still, cases are growing at a faster rate in Cebu City, overwhelming hospitals and health facilities. The DOH earlier said the city’s positivity rate is the highest in the country with about 33 out of every 100 persons testing positive.  

The DOH explained the elevated numbers as a result of increased testing capacity but also unabated community transmission. 

Meanwhile, the virus has started to make inroads in different areas of the country as the health department warned Cebu Province, Ormoc City, Leyte, Southern Leyte, and Samar were emerging hotspots in the outbreak. 

Compared to other countries, data from the World Health Organization showed the Philippines has also registered the highest number of infections in the Western Pacific Region from June 16 to June 17 with 8,143 cases reported during the period. 

The number is larger than new cases recorded in the same period in China (302), where the virus was first reported. 

Next steps: On Tuesday, June 30, President Rodrigo Duterte is again expected to decide on quarantine measures across the country as current measures in place will last until 11:59 pm of the same day. 

Meanwhile, experts have warned projected cases in the country may reach more than 60,000 by the end of July, as there is still “significant” community transmission of the disease in the country. 

They added data from the DOH showed a current average reproduction number of 1.28 and stressed the projected cases nationwide and in specific localities “represent a significant increase in transmissions.” 

This is a serious cause for concern,” they said, that warrants “appropriate and immediate response” by the government.

“The specific elements of a new approach can be further refined. What is urgent is to recognize that doing more of the same will not lead to better results,” they added. 

Cebu City is currently the only area that remains under an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ), while Talisay City is under a modified ECQ. 

Metro Manila remains under a general community quarantine, along with the following areas: 

Luzon

  • Cagayan
  • Isabela
  • Nueva Vizcaya
  • Quirino
  • Santiago City
  • Aurora
  • Bataan
  • Bulacan
  • Tarlac
  • Olongapo City
  • Cavite
  • Laguna
  • Batangas
  • Rizal
  • Quezon
  • Occidental Mindoro 

Visayas

  • Bohol
  • Cebu
  • Negros Oriental
  • Siquijor
  • Mandaue City
  • Lapu-Lapu City

Mindanao

  • Davao City
  • Zamboanga City

The rest of the country has been downgraded to modified general community quarantine, the most relaxed form of community quarantine. – Rappler.com 

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs and is the lead reporter on the coronavirus pandemic. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter via @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.