The Philippines for the second consecutive day recorded over 8,000 new COVID-19 cases, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Saturday, July 31.
With 8,147 new cases, the country ended July 2021 with a total caseload of 1,588,965. Of the total cases, 60,887 or 3.8% are currently sick.
There are also 167 new deaths due to the coronavirus disease, bringing the death toll to 27,889. Meanwhile, recoveries are up by 9,117, pushing the total recovered cases to 1,500,189.
The DOH reported a positivity rate of 14.7% out of 54,857 tests in its bulletin. These positive cases are added to the tally of confirmed cases only after further validation. This process helps ensure that cases would not be recorded in duplicates and that all test results had been submitted, explained the health department.
The DOH said two testing laboratories in the country were not operational on Thursday, July 29, and one laboratory was unable to submit data. Based on data from the past two weeks, the two labs account for 1.8% of samples tested and 1.6% of positive individuals.
On Friday, July 30, the government announced that Metro Manila would return to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) – the strictest form of quarantine – from August 6 to 20 to prepare for a possible surge in COVID-19 cases due to the Delta variant.
Metro Manila reported 1,533 new cases on Friday, pushing its seven-day average to 1,155. The Octa Research group said Metro Manila’s positivity rate jumped to 9% from just 6% in the previous week.
The government said the move is “painful” but necessary because of the more transmissible nature of the Delta variant.
As of Thursday, the Philippines has recorded 216 known cases of the Delta variant. However, there are concerns that the actual number may be far higher as the Philippine Genome Center is only sequencing a small percentage of the positive cases.
This “purposive” genome sequencing is the reason why Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they can’t attribute the high number of cases to the Delta variant yet, but they are considering that the Delta variant is now one of the factors in the increase.
“‘Pag tiningnan po natin ang datos…91% of them were recent cases. ‘Pag sinabi nating ‘recent,’ this happened in the past 14 days at iyon lang pong 9% ay galing po doon sa ibang buwan nitong mga nakaraang buwan. So, nakakita rin tayo ng mga clustering ng mga kaso dito po sa mga munisipyo or lugar na nakikita natin across the country na mayroon silang identified na Delta variant,” Vergeire said during the Laging Handa briefing on Saturday.
(When we look at the data, 91% of them were recent cases. “Recent” means it happened in the past 14 days, and the remaining 9% came from the previous months. So we are already seeing clustering of cases in the municipalities or areas across the country where we have identified cases of the Delta variant.)
Vergeire said that Filipinos should not panic and instead exercise extra caution due to the highly transmissible nature of the Delta variant. She added that the stricter lockdown measures imposed would not control the spread, but it would help the government prepare the system.
“Kailangan pa rin po nating iprepara ang sistema, gawin po natin iyong mga dapat nating gawin para ma-prevent ang further spread ng Delta variant na ito,” Vergeire said.
(We still need to prepare the system, do what we need to do, in order to prevent the further spread of the Delta variant.)
During ECQ, only essential establishments and industries would be allowed to operate. Hospitals, groceries, courier, and delivery services would remain fully operational.
Hundreds of domestic and international flights to and from the Philippines were canceled following the announcement of stricter measures in Metro Manila.
The two-week ECQ is seen to cost the Philippine economy at least P210 billion, said Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Karl Chua. – Rappler.com