The Philippines on Thursday overtook Indonesia as the epicenter of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 3,561 new cases, raising the total to 119,460.
Indonesia logged 116,871 infections as of Wednesday with an average of 1,850 new infections reported daily in the past seven days.
This marks the eighth consecutive day during which more 3,000 new cases were reported.
Of the 3,561 reported cases, 2,023 are fresh and 1,538 were reported late.
The five provinces with the highest number of new cases were Metro Manila with 2,041, Laguna with 222, Cebu with 221, Cavite with 100, and Rizal with 81.
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Ten new deaths were reported Thursday, bringing total fatalities to 2,150.
At the same time, 569 more patients recovered from the disease, bringing total recoveries to 68,837.
There are 50,473 active cases undergoing treatment or under quarantine, still the highest in Southeast Asia. Of these, 90.9 percent are cases with mild symptoms, 7.8 percent are asymptomatic, 0.8 percent show severe symptoms and 0.5 percent are in critical condition.
The DOH said figures reported on Thursday were based on data submitted by 89 out of the 98 operational laboratories.
The department also removed 81 duplicate cases from the total tally of infections.
The country’s first confirmed case was recorded on Jan. 30 in a Chinese woman who arrived from the city of Wuhan where the disease is believed to have first emerged.
A few days ago, the Philippines’ cumulative tortal of COVID-19 cases surpassed that of China.
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On Tuesday, 6,352 additional COVID-19 cases were reported.
On Thursday, the Health Alliance for Democracy (HEAD), a health care workers group, called on the government to come up with a comprehensive, decisive and transparent response to the COVID-19 pandemic, and not to threaten medical frontline workers.
Reacting to President Duterte’s rant against medical workers who asked that Metro Manila be put back under stricter quarantine conditions, HEAD said the concerns of an overwhelmed health care system and exhausted workforce wre valid and legitimate.
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“The Duterte administration keeps on painting a rosy picture that everything is doing well, but five months of enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) and general community quarantine (GCQ) have passed, the Filipino people are still waiting in vain for a comprehensive and decisive measure to combat the COVID-19 crisis. But instead of doing this, it vents its ire, throws vindictive threats against people and groups who raised well-meaning laments and criticisms,” they said.
“The health care system is not prepared and is failing in its battle against COVID-19. The Duterte government continues using [a] militarist approach, ignoring the most essential COVID-19 health interventions, like mass testing, contact tracing, appropriate isolation and quarantine measures, massive health education, and mass hiring of health personnel,” the group said.
President Rodrigo Duterte, meanwhile, called on policemen to stay “pandemic-resilient” by observing safety and health protocols to avoid the coronavirus infection amid a continued rise in COVID 19 cases.
Duterte made the remarks after thanking the policemen for their service in the fight against the pandemic during the 119th anniversary of Police Service Thursday.
The PNP tallied 33 new cases, bringing the total number of infections to 2,347. Total recoveries climbed to 1,384 while the death toll remained at 11.
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In the House, Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday cited the importance of unity in defeating the COVID-19 pandemic, saying the country “cannot hope to succeed without unity of purpose among our people.”
“We need the true spirit of Bayanihan to sustain us,” Cayetano said in a statement following the release of a manifesto by leaders of the House of Representatives declaring their commitment to unify their respective parties and organizations in order to pass the proposed Bayanihan to Recover as One Act (Bayanihan) II at the soonest time possible.
Cayetano said the Manifesto of Unity is the House leadership’s way of assuring the country’s health care workers that, like the President, “we hear your urgent pleas.”
The manifesto was released on the same day the House approved the Bayanihan II on second reading on Wednesday.