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COVID-19 infections top 290,000; death toll at almost 5,000

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PHILIPPINE STAR/MICHAEL VARCAS

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 3,475 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 290,190.

The death toll rose by 15 to 4,999, while recoveries increased by 400 to 230,233, it said in a bulletin.

There were 54,958 active cases, 86.6% of which were mild, 8.9% did not show symptoms, 1.4% were severe and 3.1% were critical.

Metro Manila reported the highest number of new cases with 1,543, followed by Batangas with 194, Rizal with 192, Cavite with 166 and Cebu with 165.

Of the new deaths, nine came from Metro Manila, three from Western Visayas, two from the Calabarzon region and one from Eastern Visayas.

More than 3.1 million people have been tested for the disease, DoH said.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) death rate was at 1.72%, lower than 3.07% globally, while the infection rate was at 10.47%, higher than the World Health Organization’s (WHO)  less than 5% benchmark.

The reproduction rate of the disease was at 0.848, meaning a positive person can infect another. It takes 11.02 days for cases to double and 15.79 days for deaths to double, DoH said.

Meanwhile, DoH asked President Rodrigo R. Duterte to issue an order regulating the prices of testing kits for the coronavirus.

The law regulates certain medicines but diagnostic and professional fees are exempted, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told reporters in a Viber group message.

Also on Monday, the Bureau of Immigration opened a quarantine facility for detained foreigners infected with the coronavirus.

In a statement, Immigration Warden Facility chief Remiecar Caguiron said the center would cater to foreigners with mild to moderate symptoms.

The facility, which has a capacity of 60, is inside the national penitentiary compound in Muntinlupa City.

The bureau will install CCTV cameras for remote monitoring of patients to lessen physical contact. Medical and detention personnel will also be assigned there, it said.

The bureau has been trying to decongest its detention facility since April to prevent the spread of the virus. More than a hundred foreigners have been deported, while those at risk of getting the virus were released on bail. 

“Overcrowding in the facility is a health risk, and we want to ensure that we mitigate this risk and stop the spread of this disease through the help of this isolation facility,” Ms. Caguiron said.

In a related development, Trade Secretary Ramon M. Lopez asked the government to further relax the lockdown in Metro Manila so more sectors could reopen.

The capital region should shift to a modified general community quarantine

In a Laging Handa briefing on Monday, he said that Metro Manila, which is currently under general community quarantine (GCQ), should shift to the modified general community quarantine (MGCQ) applied to most areas in the country.

“I think after six months nung itong virus, ng pandemic, ng lockdown, ako po ay naniniwala na natututo rin tayo paano gumalaw, kumilos sa pag-manage ng virus. Sa akin pong paniwala – ito po ay sa akin lang – maari po nating i-push ang mas magaan na community quarantine,” he said.

Metro Manila, Bulacan, Batangas, Tacloban City, and Bacolod City are under GCQ until the end of September. The Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases has yet to make an announcement on the areas’ lockdown status for October.

The government has shifted to one month-long periods before announcing a new quarantine status, replacing the previous two-week cycles.

Mr. Lopez said that the shift to more eased lockdown measures should be paired with a commitment to health measures, including face mask-wearing, disinfection measures, and aggressive contact tracing, testing, and treatment.

“Sa ganun po ay mabuksan na natin ‘yung remaining part of the economy,” he said.

Under MGCQ, dine-in restaurants could operate at 75% capacity, while gyms, entertainment, and tourism businesses can operate at 50% capacity.

Metro Manila has the highest number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, recording over 1400 new cases on Sunday as the Philippine tally exceeded 286,000. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Jenina P. Ibañez

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