THE Department of Health (DoH) reported 73 more novel coronavirus cases on Sunday, bringing the total to 380 infections with 25 deaths.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire traced the increase to laboratories being able to test more samples.
“We have extended the capacities of our laboratories, that is why there was an increase in confirmed cases,” she told radio DZBB. “That means we’ve been able to catch up with the backlogs.”
Six more patients aged 34 to 81 have died, bringing the total deaths to 25, DoH said in a separate bulletin.
Four more patients aged 26, 38, 51 and 73 had recovered, bringing the total of those who have gotten well to 17, it added
Not all tested patients had been admitted in hospitals because some who have mild symptoms or don’t show them at all were isolated in their houses or left in the care of their local government units, Ms. Vergeire said.
She also said the spike in the number of infections could also be artificial and only due to the entry of delayed results.
Five national sub-laboratories were now processing 50 to 300 tests daily together with the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), DoH said on Saturday.
These laboratories are San Lazaro Hospital and Baguio General Hospital & Medical Center in Luzon; Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center in the Visayas; and Southern Philippines Medical Center in Mindanao.
The Western Visayas Medical Center and Bicol Public Health Laboratory will undergo proficiency testing for a week before these can start testing samples.
DoH said the University of the Philippines-National Institutes of Health, which developed a detection kit that is being field-tested, was also testing “overflow samples” from RITM.
Meanwhile, the government was finalizing arrangements for the designation of three state hospitals that will exclusively treat coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.
The agency earlier called for volunteer doctors and nurses for the three so-called referral hospitals — Philippine General Hospital in Manila, Lung Center of the Philippines in Quezon City and Jose N. Rodriguez Memorial Hospital in Caloocan City.
This followed an appeal from private hospitals whose staff and resources have been strained by the number of COVID-19 patients and suspected cases in their facilities.
“These three hospitals still have existing patients so we can’t rush the process,” Ms. Vergeire said.
Also yesterday, the Health department said its chief Francisco T. Duque III had tested negative for the virus. He was tested after being in close contact with a COVID-19 patient, it said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas