The government said the sudden increase in coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the country is due to increased capacity to test patients and community transmission.
Officials stated this after the country’s COVID-19 cases jumped to 50,359 following 2,539 new infections – the highest single-day count reported so far by the Department of Health (DOH).
The new cases surpassed the previous single-day record of 2,434 reported last July 5.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the increased testing capacity of COVID-19 patients was a good thing.
“Habang napapa-igting natin ang ating testing, siyempre po, mas maraming tao ang natetesting, mas marami tayong nakikitang may COVID-19 (As we strengthen our testing capacity, we are able to test more people and identify those who have COVID-19),”he said.
“'Yan po ay mabuti dahil maihihiwalay natin sila, maa-isolate natin sila. At 'pag na-isolate natin sila, hindi na po kakalat ang sakit (This is a good thing because we can isolate them and prevent the further spread of the disease),” he added.
“At yung mga na-isolate naman po ay siyempre po pagagalingin natin at matapos sila gumaling, ire-reintegrate natin sila (And of course, we will cure those whom we have isolated and help them reintegrate to society),” he continued.
But Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said one of the factors on the spike of cases is community transmission, aside from the country’s increased testing capacity.
“Lalong napapaigting ang community transmission kung lax o hindi natin sinusunod ang minimum health standards (The community transmission intensifies if we are lax or we are not following the minimum health standards),” she said.
Vergeire emphasized again the importance of wearing mask, physical distancing, proper hand washing, observing cough etiquette during this time of pandemic.
“This is precisely why everybody needs to religiously subscribe to our minimum public health standards. It may sound repetitive but we will not stop reminding everyone to wear a mask, observe physical distancing, sanitize. This is a call for everybody, whether you be in the private or public sector,” said Vergeire.
“If you are going out and exposing yourself and your loved ones to an unseen enemy, protect yourself. By doing so, you protect your family, you protect your community, you protect the nation,” she added.
Ramping up testing
Meanwhile, according to Roque, the government will further expand its targeted testing and they will “invest heavily” on tracing.
He added that the country's health system is not yet overwhelmed by the number of cases.
“Bagama't tumataas ang kaso, karamihan naman po dito asymptomatic at mild (Even though the number of cases continues to increase, most of this is mild and asymptomatic),” he said.
“Hindi pa po nao-overwhelm ang ating health system, napaghandaan naman po natin 'yan. As we speak, naghahanda pa rin tayo ng mas maraming isolation centers para yung mga severe at critical lamang ang mga mao-ospital (Our health system has not been overwhelmed. We've prepared for it. As we speak, we are still preparing more isolation centers for the severe and critical cases),” he added.
Of the 34,178 active cases reported as of July 7, 93.7 percent are mild cases while 5.6 percent are asymptomatic.
Only 0.6 percent of the total number of active cases is severe while 0.1 percent is critical.
As of July 8, Cebu City still topped the areas with the largest number of active COVID-19 cases with 4,380 cases.
It is followed by Quezon City with 1,899 cases, and Manila with 1,719 cases. The Philippines' daily positivity rate is 7.5 percent or below the World Health Organization (WHO) standard of 10 percent.
The COVID19 mortality rate in the country is at 2.9 percent while the global average is 5.5 percent. Lapses Roque admitted that the country could have done better if it had more testing laboratories at the onset of the health crisis.
“Medyo naging mabagal ang proseso na lumipas ang ilang buwan isa lang ang testing natin – RITM (We were slow and we spent months with only one testing laboratory – the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine),” he said.
“What we could have done better siguro kung nagkaroon tayo ng unang kaso, eh pinalawak natin ang testing agad (when we had confirmed the first case, we could have intensified the testing immediately),” he added.
The Philippines reported its first confirmed case of COVID-19 late January this year. The patient was a tourist from Wuhan, China, the origin of the pandemic.