NTF: COVID-19 cases generally decreasing but isolated surges noted

Published October 19, 2020, 11:45 PM

by Martin Sadongdong

The number of COVID-19 cases in the country is generally decreasing but there should be no room for complacency as select areas are experiencing a surge due to the relaxation of community quarantine status, the National Task Force (NTF) Against COVID-19 disclosed Monday night.

Presidential Peace Adviser Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force (NTF) on COVID-19 (NTF AGAINST COVID-19 / MANILA BULLETIN)

NTF chief implementer Carlito Galvez Jr. said among the areas with increasing COVID-19 infections were Baguio City in the Cordillera Administrative Region (CAR); and Ilagan City in Cagayan Valley (Region 2), which prompted Isabela Governor Rodolfo Albano III to place the area back to the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) from modified ECQ.

“Sa bandang north po, Sir, tumataas ang kaso. Actually, tumawag po sa akin si Governor Albano na ginawa niyang ECQ ang Ilagan City. Iyang area ng Baguio last week ay tumaas din po (In the north, Sir, the cases are rising. Actually, Governor Albano called me to say that he placed Ilagan City back to ECQ. In Baguio City, there was also a surge last week),” Galvez told President Duterte in a Cabinet meeting.

The ECQ in Ilagan City took effect on Friday, October 16, and will last until October 30, according to the city government. 

This, after a total of 331 new infections were recorded in 55 of its 91 barangays when it was placed under the MECQ from October 6 to 16.

As of Monday, Ilagan City recorded 18 new cases, bringing the total number to 1,156 — the highest in Region 2, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed. It has 429 active cases, 718 recoveries, and nine deaths.

Meanwhile, Baguio City still has the most number of COVID-19 cases in CAR with 1,641 after it registered 34 new cases on Monday. It has 584 active cases, 1,040 recoveries, and 17 deaths.

Despite this, the DOH said that the transmission rate in the country remained at 0.784 as of October 5, below the benchmark set by the World Trade Organization which is 1.

Galvez said it was largely because of the decline in the COVID-19 cases in the National Capital Region (NCR), Calabarzon (Region 4A), and Central Luzon (Region 3).

“We would like to thank the LGUs. They are working very hard para at least ma-manage natin itong ating mga kaso (so at least we can manage our cases),” he said.

DOH data showed that the National Capital Region (NCR) still has the most number of total recorded cases among the 17 regions with 180,189. 

Calabarzon has the second highest record with 65,571 total cases while Central Luzon is in fourth place with 20,781 total cases.

Galvez said good-performing areas, including the three regions, have steadily registered a decrease in the number of infections by up to 7,000.

Currently, NCR has only 14,945 active cases, Calabarzon has 9,763, while Central Luzon has 3,874.

Meanwhile, members of the Coordinated Operations to Defeat Epidemic (CODE) Team will visit La Union, Nueva Ecija, Pangasinan, Laguna, Palawan, Cebu, Leyte, and Negros Occidental to check on the local governments’ individual performances in the fight against COVID-19. 

Cases in parts of Mindanao rising

But Galvez revealed that the situation was not as good in some areas in Mindanao. He said several provinces, including Bukidnon in Region 10, have increasing COVID-19 infections.

He said Senator Miguel “Migz” Zubiri called him to ask for help in addressing the rising COVID-19 infections in Bukidnon, whose current governor is his father, Jose Zubiri Jr.

NTF chairman Delfin Lorenzana, NTF deputy chief implementer and testing czar Vince Dizon; and Baguio City Mayor and tracing czar Benjamin Magalong will visit Bukidnon on Tuesday to assess the situation on the ground.

Currently, Bukidnon has 592 cases after 15 new infections were recorded on Monday. It has 201 active cases, 384 recoveries, and seven deaths.

On the other hand, an outbreak in Sabah forced the NTF and other members of the CODE Team to schedule a visit in Tawi-Tawi and help local officials implement safety measures to ensure that it won’t reach the Bangsamoro region.

Foreign news reports said up to 700 new cases and six fatalities were recorded in Sabah on October 18, a new record high for the Malaysian state.

“Sa Tawi-Tawi po, pupunta po kami kasi mayroon pong outbreak na nangyari sa Sabah. Kailangan po natin talagang proteksyunan ang Tawi-Tawi (In Tawi-Tawi, we will also go there because an outbreak occurred in Sabah. We really need to protect Tawi-Tawi),” Galvez said.

The island of Tawi-Tawi is sharing sea borders with Sabah. 

Tawi-Tawi has 141 cases, of which 22 were active, 115 recovered, and four died. 

More than a thousand overseas Filipinos who were stranded in Sabah due to COVID-19 pandemic are yet to be repatriated back to the Philippines.