Philippines' COVID-19 cases breach 70,000

The Philippines now has 70,764 confirmed COVID-19 cases after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,951 new cases on Tuesday, July 21.

The DOH reported two new deaths due to the coronavirus disease, bringing the death toll to 1,837, while the recoveries are up by 209, raising total recoveries to 23,281.

University of the Philippines researchers have predicted COVID-19 cases in the country to hit 85,000 by July 31.

The latest DOH data showed that 1,464 or 75% of the new reported cases are from Metro Manila.

For 6 straight days, Metro Manila had tallied over 1,000 new cases daily. Previous days saw new cases at 1,872 on July 16; 1,079 on July 17; 1,805 on July 18; 1,625 on July 19; and 1,237 on July 20, according to DOH's dataset as of July 20.

On July 15, President Rodrigo Duterte extended the general community quarantine (GCQ) in Metro Manila until July 31, but the government warned that it could place the capital region to modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) if COVID-19 cases continue to rise in the next two weeks.

As of July 20, the country has 91 licensed testing hubs, while its testing capacity hovered around 16,000 to 21,000 last week. This is still below the 30,000 testing capacity that the government targeted to have back in May.

The country has so far tested over 1 million individuals out of the government's total target of two million or 2% of the country's 110 million population.

In a pre-recorded meeting with Duterte and other cabinet officials aired on Tuesday morning, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that the country is now aiming to test 10 million of its population by 2021.

Meanwhile, Duterte has allowed "limited" face-to-face classes in low-risk areas or those under modified GCQ. –

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.