The Philippines now has 51,754 coronavirus cases, after yet another day of more than a thousand new cases.
The Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,395 more cases on Thursday, July 9 – the 7th consecutive day of new cases numbering over a thousand. The surge comes as quarantine restrictions were eased nationwide, save for Cebu City in the Visayas.
Some 30% of the new cases come from Metro Manila which just entered its second month under the looser general community quarantine (GCQ) where public transportation has resumed and most businesses are back in operation.
Aroud 20% of the new cases come from Central Visayas, home to Cebu City which is still under enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in which only one member per household is allowed outside to run important errands.
Metro Manila and Central Visayas are the two top sources of new cases among all regions.
No new deaths. A ray of light shone on Thursday as the government reported no coronavirus-linked death for the first time since the pandemic gained a footing in the country.
The DOH explained that no deaths were reported on Thursday because the deaths initially reported to them "still require validation" because "either the date or cause of death is missing."
The death toll remains at 1,314.
For the past week, the new deaths reported per day did not surpass 10.
More people continue to recover, with 225 new recoveries reported on Thursday, bringing the total to 12,813.
Testing capacity. The country has so far been able to test 825,139 individuals out of the government's total target of two million or 2% of the country's 110 million population.
For the past 7 days, the country's testing laboratories have been able to process an average of 19,500 tests. The highest output was reached on Tuesday, July 7, when 23,104 tests were processed.
This is still below the government's 30,000 testing capacity target in May.
The country also added to its licensed laboratories, totaling 83 as of Thursday.
Cebu City faring better? Amid the continued rise in cases, the government coronavirus task force is monitoring the situation in Cebu City where military and police personnel have been deployed to enforce lockdown measures.
Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was "effective" in alleviating the impact of COVID-19 in the Visayas urban hub.
"The rates of those testing positive have gone down because of the ECQ. There is a decreasing trend in their mortality rate. ECQ is effective in Cebu [City] right now," he said in Filipino earlier on Thursday.
What will be the fate of Metro Manila after July 15, when its GCQ classification expires? Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said it's too early to tell.
But he noted that 99% of the cases reported nationwide are mild or asymptomatic cases and because of this, Metro Manila hospitals are not yet overwhelmed.
The government has decided that an area can only enter into modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) if the case doubling rate there is 10 days or more. This means it should take at least 10 days for COVID-19 cases to double there.
Metro Manila's case doubling rate is at 8 while Cebu City's is around 6.9, Roque previously said. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.