DOH: Average daily COVID-19 cases drop by 25 percent
MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines saw its overall number of new cases drop by 25 percent last month, in part driven by the continued decline in the number of infections in Metro Manila, the epicenter of the outbreak in the country.
Department of Health (DOH) data showed that three to four weeks ago, the average number of daily cases nationwide stood at 2,517. But in the last two weeks, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said this dropped by 25 percent, or to 1,887.
In Metro Manila, where the outbreak of the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 has been largely concentrated, the average number of daily cases in the same period decreased from 842 to 522.
“Hopefully, we will come to that point where new cases will continuously decline,” Vergeire said.
Health system capacity
Despite the improved numbers, Vergeire reiterated that this was not the only metric in recommending the further easing of restrictions, particularly in the capital region that remains under general community quarantine.
“Most important is our health system capacity is not overwhelmed and able to accommodate even non-COVID cases. Also, the average growth rate should be on a downward [trajectory], meaning it’s not on a positive [trend],” she said.
Currently, the average daily attack rate across the country is at 1.76 percent, while in Metro Manila it is at 3.5 percent. Both are classified as “medium risk.”
Earlier, Vergeire said the DOH was targeting that all localities in the country would have transitioned to the much looser modified general community quarantine by the first quarter of next year.
Virus case update
On Monday, the DOH reported an additional 2,298 cases, bringing the national tally to 385,400.
Benguet province recorded the highest number of new infections with 188, followed by Davao City (166), Rizal (119), Quezon City (116) and Bulacan (91).
The total number of COVID-19 survivors rose to 348,830 with the recovery of 87 patients. The death toll, however, rose to 7,269 as 32 more patients succumbed to the severe respiratory disease.
The recoveries and deaths left the country with 29,301 active cases, or 7.6 percent of the total, of which 82.5 percent are mild, 9.6 percent asymptomatic, 2.8 percent severe and 5 percent critical.
Data submitted by the accredited laboratories showed that as of Monday noon, an additional 17,564 people had been tested for COVID-19. Of these, 1,057 tested positive for the new coronavirus, yielding a positivity rate of 6 percent.
Monday’s positivity rate is near the World Health Organization’s benchmark of less than 5 percent.
Davao health workers
Vergeire said the DOH was already investigating what was driving new infections among health workers in the Davao region. She noted, however, that these health workers are not assigned in hospitals but in primary care facilities.
“We have already given guidance [to the region] and are further investigating what is happening. For other regions in Mindanao, [there is] a declining trend in health-care worker infections,” she said.
President Duterte on Monday said he had appointed Secretary Carlito Galvez Jr., chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, as the country’s “vaccine czar.”
“The purchase of the vaccine, the negotiation [for the] manufacture, production or distribution, I have given that to Secretary Galvez. So only Secretary Galvez is authorized to negotiate or whatever. Only one. I don’t want a committee, it takes long to decide. I have a great faith in Charlie to really come up with the solutions for the problem,” Mr. Duterte said. —WITH A REPORT FROM JEROME ANING
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