The surge Saturday in the number of coronavirus infections has raised the total cases to 25,392, with the country recording its highest single-day “fresh” infections at 504.
Of the 607 added to the infected cases ledger, only 103 were part of the validation backlog.
The record number of fresh cases, or those reported to the patient within the last three days, came two days before President Rodrigo Duterte announces his decision on the fate of areas under General Community Quarantine on Monday.
Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque, in a radio interview, said the chief executive will decide the next steps to contain the spread of COVID-19 while balancing public health and the economy.
The Palace official said Metro Manila and other areas under might transition to modified general community quarantine (MGCQ), return to modified enhanced community quarantine, or remain under GCQ.
But as far as the Department of Health is concerned, Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire told the Laging handa briefing the DOH had not as yet issued any official recommendation from the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF).
She added any information on the quarantine status for Metro Manila come June 15 remained baseless, as the Task Force on the COVID-19 response would still have to issue a decision.
“We haven’t released any IATF recommendation about the June 15 decision. All that’s coming out now has no basis. We’re studying this carefully,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire said indicators factored into deciding the quarantine level include the time confirmed cases double, and level of usage of critical care facilities in hospitals.
Metro Manila shifted to GCQ on June 1, following over two months of a strict lockdown, with businesses and transport operations resuming partially to spur economic activity.
Vergeire said that whether or not the doubling case rate increased or decreased, what’s important was that the public continued to observe measures against the virus.
A lower doubling time indicates slower spread of infection.
“We continue to follow preventive measures so we can continue the fight against COVID-19,” Vergeire said, reminding the public of the DOH warning on the use of antibody test kits sold online.
“The use of rapid antibody test kits is becoming prevalent. We see online sellers selling this. People have to be sure when they use this,” Vergeire said.
Vergeire stressed these test kits should be registered with the Food and Drug Administration and validated by the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine.
Health officials earlier warned such rapid test kits could result in false positives.
At the same time, Vergeire said there was not enough proof to support a study claiming that airborne transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19 was possible.
The DOH had previously maintained that COVID-19 was transmitted through respiratory droplets amid circulation of online information that the virus might linger in the air in some situations.
In a related development, the Quezon City government has placed two other areas under special concern a lockdown due to a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases.
Assistant city administrator Alberto Kimpo identified the areas as 138 Ermin Garcia Street and 52 Imperial Street, both in Barangay E. Rodriguez.
“From two active cases, the number of COVID-19 cases in these two areas went up to 15, this came after Metro Manila eased into general community quarantine,” he pointed out.
To date, areas under special concern lockdown are Sitio Militar in Barangay Bahay Toro, Calle 29 in Barangay Libis, and Kaingin Bukid in Barangay Apolonio Samson.