The total number of people in the Philippines infected with COVID-19 has reached 70,764, the Department of Health (DOH) said Tuesday.
Based on data from 73 out of 89 COVID-19 labs, an additional 1,951 cases were added Tuesday, bringing the total number of active cases or those who have yet to recover to 45,646.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told President Rodrigo Duterte that the government’s target is to test 10 million Filipinos for COVID-19 by 2021, accounting for about 10 percent of the total population.
This was after Duterte asked Duque if the country can afford to do COVID-19 tests “for every citizen” to arrest the further spread of the disease.
But Duque said no country can afford to do that.
“We cannot test each citizen. No country can do that, even the richest country like the United States of America cannot do that,” Duque told Duterte in Filipino.
Majority or 1,464 of the additional new cases are from the National Capital Region, 90 are from Cebu province, 74 are from Laguna, 53 are from Cavite and 36 are from Rizal.
This is the sixth straight day that the NCR logged more than 1,000 additional COVID-19 cases.
The DOH also reported 209 additional recovered patients, bringing the total number of recoveries to 23,281.
There were also two additional COVID-related deaths—the lowest since March 24—which brought the total fatalities to 1,837.
Of the active cases, 91.1 percent have mild symptoms, 8 percent are asymptomatic, 0.4 percent have severe symptoms and 0.5 percent are in critical condition.
The DOH said 85 duplicate cases were removed from the previous total case count.
“These numbers undergo constant cleaning and validation,” it said.
Researchers from the University of the Philippines earlier projected that the country would reach 60,000 total cases by the end of July. The UP group raised their projection to 85,000, based on current trends.
Duterte on Monday assured the public in a taped address that the government is doing its best to reduce the number of infections to “the barest minimum.”
Duterte reminded the public that they should wear face masks and observe social distancing.
Also on Tuesday, a former Health secretary urged the government to take criticism constructively during the pandemic.
"“It is the function of the private sector to call out [the] government for incompetence, dishonesty, and other faults if there’ll be any. And the government should take all of these criticisms… in a constructive way,” former Health secretary Esperanza Cabral said in an online forum.
“[The] government must accept [that] this is for the good of all— and only when we work together–dynamically, smartly, competently, and inclusively–[will] we… be able to achieve good health and good life for all.”
The Zoom meeting was attended by three other former DOH secretaries who rejected a proposal to postpone the implementation of the Universal Health Care (UHC) Law due to dwindling contributions to the state health insurance system during the lockdowns.
A number of individuals have come under fire from authorities for posting negative comments online about the government's handling of the pandemic.
Senator Francis Pangilinan, meanwhile, welcomed the Department of Healht (DOH) announcement that Filipino-made GenAmplify RT-PCR test kits can finally be used.
“After almost six months, we can finally use the Filipino-made test kits which are half the price [of] imported [ones]," he said.
In a joint statement on Saturday, Senate Minority Floor Leader Franklin Drilon and Senators Risa Hontiveros and Pangilinan himself urged the DoH to allow the use of the â‚±1,320 RT-PCR test kits developed by the UP-National Institute for Health (UP-NIH) and funded by the Department of Science and Technology (DoST).
An interim report showed that the GenAmplify RT-PCR tests kits have up to 93.96 percent sensitivity and up to 98.04 percent specificity, at a confidence interval of 95 percent.
In the interest of transparency, Pangilinan said the public needs to know the actual and projected DoH expenses for the rapid and PCR test kits as part of its response to the pandemic.