DOH cites ‘improved’ COVID handling; PH 20th highest in global case tallies
The country’s health system has “improved tremendously” in the last six months and led to better management of the coronavirus infection, the Department of Health (DOH) maintained on Friday, despite the Philippines’ 20th ranking among countries with the highest number of new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases.
The latest global data by various monitoring agencies—including Johns Hopkins University and Bloomberg.com—shows the Philippines with 316,678 cases, outpacing Pakistan’s 21st ranking with 313,431 cases and trailing Italy’s 19th ranking with 317,409 cases.
The United States still has the highest number of cases with 7,278,384, followed by India, Brazil, Russia and Colombia.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said it was important to consider, when looking at the data, how many of the cases were active.
“We have to focus on the active cases, and not the cumulative number of cases,” she said. “When we look at our active cases, our recovery rate, case fatality rate and our health system capacity, we can see that we have improved and we think that we are able to keep up with our response for COVID-19.”
The country’s recovery rate was at least 80 percent, while its case fatality rate remained stable at less than 2 percent, Vergeire said.
Vergeire also said government efforts in contact tracing have become “more efficient” —although she also said there was room for improvement, particularly among the local governments.
With regard to testing capacity, “Our response has greatly improved compared to before,” she said.
Vergeire also pointed out the wider coverage of hospital treatment. “By now, we have already expanded our units in our hospitals. It really helped that the private sector worked with us and they, too, expanded their units. It’s important that we look at our health system capacity, aside from the numbers,” she said.
“We might be in the Top 20 among all of the countries in the world with the [highest] number of cases, but when we look at our health system, it has improved tremendously. There was a time when patients had to wait outside the hospitals [or] weren’t able to reach the hospitals,” Vergeire said.
In an interview with CNN Philippines, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the country had improved in its response to the pandemic.
“We have learned from the past and we know how to take care of COVID-19 patients better,” he said.
An additional 2,611 cases were recorded on Friday, which pushed the current national tally to 316,678.
Of the newly reported cases, 2,150 got sick between Sept. 19 and Oct. 2, while 359 fell ill between Sept. 1 and Sept. 18.
Metro Manila accounted for the most number of new infections with 1,084, followed by Cavite (202), Iloilo (182), Bulacan (163) and Rizal (132).
There are now a total of 254,617 patients who have recovered from COVID-19 with the recovery of 416.
The death toll, however, climbed to 5,616 after 56 patients succumbed to the severe respiratory disease.
Of the newly reported deaths, 43 died in September, six in August, five in July, and one each in May and April.
Twenty-two of the fatalities were from Metro Manila, seven from Central Visayas, seven from Calabarzon, six from Central Luzon, four from Bicol, two each from Cagayan Valley, Western Visayas and Northern Mindanao, and one each from Zamboanga, Davao, Soccsksargen and Caraga.
The recoveries and deaths leave the country with 56,445 active cases, of which 87 percent are mild, 8.8 percent asymptomatic, 1.3 percent severe and 2.9 percent critical. As of Oct. 1, more than half of all ward, isolation and intensive care beds in the country remain unoccupied, while only 24 percent of the more than 2,200 mechanical ventilators are in use.
In Metro Manila, 53 percent of the 1,800 ward beds, 52 percent of the 4,100 isolation beds, and 55 percent of the 745 intensive care beds are occupied.
A total 3,558,535 persons have been tested for COVID-19 by the 138 accredited laboratories, as of Friday noon. —WITH A REPORT FROM JULIE M. AURELIO
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