COVID-19 in charts: Where does PH stand in ASEAN, world?

Michael Bueza

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COVID-19 in charts: Where does PH stand in ASEAN, world?

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(34th UPDATE) In ASEAN, as of September 1, Malaysia has the has the highest number of daily new COVID-19 cases per 1 million people

It’s been over a year since COVID-19 first struck the Philippines. Total cases in the country have breached 2 million as of September 1.

With thousands of cases still added to our caseload daily, how are we faring in the fight against the virus compared to our neighbors in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as well as the world?

2nd in ASEAN for total cases

For two months in 2020, the Philippines was the country in Southeast Asia with the most number of COVID-19 cases – from August 6, when it overtook Indonesia, until October 15. As of September 1, 2021, Indonesia has the most number of coronavirus cases among ASEAN members.

In the line chart below, switch between the normal and logarithmic scales of the coronavirus cases of each ASEAN member country every day since January 2020.

Compared to the normal scale, the logarithmic scale skews the vertical axis (or y-axis) to show whether total cases in a country have grown exponentially compared to others.

In all line charts in this story, the line for the Philippines is colored orange.

Looking at the incidence rate or the seven-day average of new COVID-19 cases per one million people in these countries, as seen in the chart below, the Philippines saw high daily confirmed infections in August 2020, followed by a brief spike in new cases in mid-September.

At the end of the first quarter of 2021, after the holiday break, the country’s seven-day average rose again, which peaked in April. Indonesia’s average rose to another high in mid-July, but at around the same time, new infections in the Philippines increased, with the threat of the more infectious Delta variant of COVID-19.

Malaysia’s incidence rate, which is currently the highest in Southeast Asia, spiked in February, followed by more severe “waves” starting in June.

As of September 1, Vietnam’s cases are rising similar to the Philippines’, while Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, and more recently Brunei are recovering from fresh spikes.

A seven-day average is used to smooth out sudden or erratic changes in daily new cases. Per-one-million people computations are also used to account for the different population sizes of each nation, to make them more comparable to each other.

In terms of total cases per one million people, the Philippines places 2nd in ASEAN, behind Malaysia.

Malaysia also leads in deaths per 1 million people. As for active cases per capita, the Philippines is in the middle of the pack as of September 1.

Focusing on the status of COVID-19 cases, the Philippines ranks fourth to last, so far, in Southeast Asia in terms of the percentage of active cases.

The Philippines currently places fifth in terms of case fatality rate, or the share of all coronavirus cases that resulted in deaths.

Place your cursor on the bars below to see the percentage values for the status of COVID-19 cases per country.

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Total cases back in top 20 worldwide

Here's how the Philippines compares with top countries in terms of total cases based on data from Our World in Data as of August 31, 2021. You may again switch between normal and logarithmic scales in the chart below.

For almost the entirety of October 2020, the Philippines was among the top 20 countries with the most COVID-19 cases. It got bumped out of that list after European countries like Italy, Germany, Belgium, and Ukraine experienced a steep wave of new cases.

On January 10, 2021, the Philippines was off the top 30, after new cases in Israel pushed the country down along with Sweden. But after a recent spike in new cases, it returned to the top 30 nearly two months later, on March 5, surpassing Pakistan.

On August 28, the Philippines was back in the top 20, when total cases reached nearly 1.94 million, surpassing the Netherlands' total.

Here are the seven-day averages of new COVID-19 cases per 1 million people in these same countries. You may select certain countries in the search bar in the chart below to compare them more closely.

Here's a look at the per-capita figures among these countries.

Worldwide, the Philippines is near the middle of the pack, so far, in terms of total cases per one million population, ranking 128th out of 221 countries tracked by

Meanwhile, looking at deaths per one million people, the Philippines is likewise near the middle, at 118th place so far, out of 208 countries with recorded deaths.

In terms of the status of all cases among these select nations, the Philippines' rate of active cases stands at around 7.3%, higher than that of six countries in the list.

Meanwhile, the Philippines' 1.68% case fatality rate (CFR) is a bit higher than that of three countries in the list.

Still, this is below the global CFR of 2.08%, based on figures from the World Health Organization as of September 1. Six countries in the list have CFRs higher than the global rate.

The Philippine Department of Health continues to urge Filipinos to keep following health protocols, even if the country is seeing a downward trend in COVID-19 cases.

Independent research group Octa cautioned the government in October against "prematurely downgrading the quarantine status" in high-risk areas," especially in pandemic epicenter Metro Manila.

An early easing of quarantine measures in these areas, Octa said, "may lead to exponential growth in the number of cases and deaths apart from overwhelming our health care system" and would "seriously compromise" efforts to contain the virus. –

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Michael Bueza

Michael is a data curator under Rappler's Tech Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.