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Coronavirus cases top 178,000 with death toll nearing 3,000

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PHILIPPIINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE Department of Health (DoH) reported 4,339 new coronavirus infections on Thursday, bringing the total to 178,022.

The death toll rose 2,883 after 88 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 727 to 114,114, it said in a bulletin.

There were 61,025 active cases, 91.3% of which were mild, 6.6% did not show symptoms, 0.9% were severe and 1.2% were critical, the agency said.

Out of the new cases, 3,213 were reported in the past 14 days, mostly from Metro Manila with 1,737 cases, it added. The other 223 came from Laguna, 155 from Cavite, 128 from Cebu and 109 from Rizal.

The new cases came from tests done by 100 out of 109 licensed laboratories.

Forty-two of the new reported deaths came from Central Visayas, 34 from Metro Manila, five from Western Visayas, four from the Calabarzon region and one each from Ilocos, Zamboanga Peninsula and the Cordillera Administrative region, DoH said.

It said it had tested more than 2 million people for the coronavirus.

Meanwhile, DoH dismissed a report by the Ateneo de Manila University’s Department of Economics that almost three million COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) cases in the Philippines had not been reported.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said the agency would look at the Ateneo data released on Wednesday.

“They were basing their estimations with the case fatality rate if I am not mistaken,” she told an online news briefing. “We have referred it to our experts and epidemiologists.”

She questioned the research method of comparing cases in the Philippines with those of other countries in the region.

About 2.81 million people might have been infected with the coronavirus from April to June, but only 34,354 or 1.22% were detected and reported, according Jan Frederick Cruz, who wrote the study.

He also said Indonesia might have had 6.58 million cases, but it only detected 53,678 or 0.82%. Thailand might have had 89,357 cases, but only detected 1.7% or 1,520, and Malaysia might have had 158,237, but only detected 3.8% or 6,011.

While Indonesia may have more estimated cases, discounting the effect of population size “highlights the Philippines as the worst performer among the ASEAN-5 in controlling the spread of COVID-19,” Mr. Cruz said.

The Philippines has been under various levels of lockdown since mid-March, that are changed every 15 days if needed.

Meanwhile, DoH said people should observe health standards because a lockdown is not the only solution to contain the pandemic.

“We cannot remain to be in lockdown forever,” Ms. Vergeire said. “We have to balance health and economics.”

She added that the effects of the modified enhanced community quarantine in the capital region from Aug. 14 to 18 would be seen in the next few weeks.

Metro Manila went back to a general community quarantine on Wednesday despite a fresh surge in infections.

Also on Thursday, the palace said the government would keep the limit of 10 people for gatherings including religious meetings after a Manila bishop asked it to reconsider the decision.

Mr. Roque said religious meetings across the world became hotbeds for coronavirus outbreaks. “We can go online in the meantime and observe the 10-person limit, which is temporary,” he said. — Charmaine A. Tadalan and Gillian M. Cortez

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