About eight months into the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic, the country’s number of confirmed infections reached more than 200,000 on Wednesday, August 26.
The Department of Health (DOH) said that the Philippines’ caseload was pushed to 202,361 after 5,277 more people were confirmed to have been infected with the disease. Of the total figure, 65,764 are active cases or those undergoing treatment.
The DOH said that 3,157 of the new infections came from Metro Manila, while 403 are from Laguna, 304 from Negros Occidental, 237 from Rizal, and 228 from Cavite.
Ninety-nine more patients died because of the disease, bringing the death toll to 3,137. The DOH said 77 of the newly announced deaths occurred in August, while 18 in July, three in June, and one in May.
Another 1,131 patients were also listed as recovered, raising the total number of survivors to 133,460.
The Philippines is still in the 22nd spot with the most number of cases worldwide, based on the COVID-19 dashboard of the World Health Organization (WHO).
During an online forum last August 20, WHO Country Representative to the Philippines Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe said that Filipinos should not be “discouraged” by the high number of cases as this was “an acknowledgment of the fact that you have expanded your testing capacity.”
However, Abeyasinghe urged the Philippines to further increase its healthcare capacity.
Meanwhile, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire official reminded the public that isolation is a vital step in mitigating the transmission of COVID-19.
“An individual needs to isolate or do self-quarantine even at the slightest suspicion or symptoms of COVID-19 to protect themselves and their loved ones,” she said.
“Whether you are tested or not, please isolate. If you have been in contact with someone who has symptoms or has tested positive, please isolate immediately. If you are unsure if you have been exposed to a person with the virus, again please isolate,” she added.
Vergeire emphasized that the public should immediately inform their Barangay Health Response teams (BHERTs) if they have been in close contact with a COVID-19 patient.
“We want our fellow Filipinos to know that our BHERTs are our first line of responders in our respective communities. Let us take part in our community response. Let us be proactive and make the effort to know who exactly our BHERTs are so that we know who to listen to, and who to get help from if needed,” said Vergeire.
“Ang laban sa COVID-19 ay wala sa mga ospital, isolation facilities, o testing centers. Ito ay nagsisimula sa ating mga komunidad, barangay, at mga tahanan [The fight against COVID-19 is not in hospitals, isolation facilities, or testing centers. It starts in our communities, barangays, and homes],” she added.
COVID-19 response expenses
Vergeire on Wednesday said that the DOH has already utilized 86 percent of its budget for the COVID-19 response.
The DOH’s total budget for COVID-19 is at P51.55 billion, wherein 89 percent “came from the supplemental budget or the Bayanihan Act which is P45.72 billion,” said Vergeire.
“As of August 2020, utilization was P44.57 billion or 86.46 percent. Forty-six percent of this P44.57 billion was used for case management-related commodities katulad po nung pagbili namin ng PPE (personal protective equipment), masks, pagbili ng ibat-ibang gamot na ginagamit po natin sa response [Forty-six percent of this P44.57 billion was used for case management-related commodities such as for buying PPE, masks, and for various drugs that we use in our response],” she said.
“Thirty percent of (that), which is equivalent to P15.47 billion, na ginagstos po natin para laboratory-related commodities. Ito po yung mga testing kits at iba pang logistical supplies na kailangan ng laboratories [Thirty percent of (that), which is equivalent to P15.47 billion, was spent for laboratory-related commodities—-these are the testing kits and other logistical supplies that laboratories need],” she added.