PH reports biggest jump of 259 deaths; total COVID-19 cases at 265,888

The Philippines listed its largest number of deaths reported in a single day since the pandemic started, raising the nationwide death toll due to COVID-19 to 4,630 as of Monday, September 14.

But not all fatalities took place recently, with two of the deaths reported to have occurred as far back as April and May,, while 22 were from June and 97 were from July. Bulk of the deaths, or 110 fatalities, took place in August, while another 28 were reported within September. 

The 259 deaths include 253 that were previously reported as recoveries following the department’s “time-based strategy” of recording recoveries where patients are considered recovered after 14 days after isolation or testing. This is in line with standards put in place by the World Health Organization and the US Centers for Disease Control in situations where repeat testing is no longer carried out. 

Among the deaths reported, 154 or 59% took place in Metro Manila, followed by 28 in Central Visayas, 4 in Eastern Visayas, 3 in Bicol region, and 3 more in areas still to be identified. Another two each took place in Central Luzon,  Zamboanga, Northern Mindanao, and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao; while there was one death each reported in the Cordillera Administrative Region, Caraga, and Western Visayas. 

The DOH earlier attributed the retagging of recoveries as deaths to continuing efforts to validate the status of confirmed cases down at the level of local governments, health facilities, and regional surveillance units. 

“We continue to strive to keep media and the public updated with the most accurate national tally available at the moment. At the same time, we are constantly reminding our LGUs and disease reporting units to immediately report deaths and ensure that information to support this is completely encoded,” the agency said in a statement on Sunday, September 13. 

Since the start of the pandemic, the DOH has had difficulty with its data upkeep as many disease reporting units were manually encoding cases and only recently transitioned to the department’s new COVID-Kaya app to record cases. 

Cases still up

Monday’s tally also saw the number of newly-reported cases increase by 4,699 cases, raising the total confirmed cases nationwide to 265,888. 

The latest number remains on the higher-end of cases reported in a single day, signaling the pandemic was still spreading in the Philippines. Bulk of cases or 4,090 (87%) occurred within the last two weeks. 

Among the top regions with cases in the past two weeks were Metro Manila (1,102), Cavite (221), Bataan (198), Bulacan (185) , and Batangas (176). 

Former health secretary Manuel Dayrit earlier pointed out the continued upward trend of cases showed the pandemic in the Philippines has yet to be controlled. While lockdown measures helped to slow down cases, he added, it did not quash transmission of the disease. 

The increase in cases comes as the Philippine government continued to ease quarantine restrictions by reducing physical distancing in public transport. The policy, pushed by the transportation department, was opposed by medical experts and even Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, vice chair of the Philippines' coronavirus task force.

Health experts warned additional cases may come as a result of the relaxed health measures in public transport and could further stall the country’s efforts to recover its economy. 

The DOH likewise stood by its recommendation to observe at least 1 meter of distancing between commuters when possible and urged Filipinos to be “extra vigilant” in places where distancing could not be practiced. 

Meanwhile, the DOH announced 249 more recoveries, bringing the total number of recoveries to 207,504. – Rappler.com

Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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