THE Department of Health (DoH) reported 490 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 26,420.
The death toll rose to 1,098 after 10 more patients died, while 298 more patients have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 6,252, it said in a bulletin.
Of the new cases, 348 results were reported in the past three days, while 142 were reported late, DoH said.
The fresh cases included 131 from Metro Manila, 79 from Central Visayas and 138 from the other regions, the Health department said.
The government aims to test 1.5% of the country’s more than 100 million people by next month, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said at a news briefing. The country’s 59 testing laboratories can now test 50,000 samples daily, she added.
She said the agency was trying to address the testing backlog, now down to 500. The agency was also working to address delayed reports.
Turnaround time was now three to five days from five to seven days before, she said.
Ms. Vergeire also said it now takes DoH seven days to validate and verify COVID-19-related deaths from 20 days before.
Emmanuel Baja of the National Institutes of Health and University of the Philippines Manila’s College of Medicine said there were vacancies in the country’s intensive care units and there were enough ventilators.
Mr. Baja also said the lower death rate means health workers know how to manage patients well.
DoH earlier said fewer Filipinos infected with the novel coronavirus were dying compared with the rest of the world.
The Philippines has a fatality rate of about 4% compared with the global average of 5.6%.
Still, the country’s death rate is higher than its Southeast Asian neighbors excluding Indonesia.
In contrast, the United States reached a milestone after its COVID-19 death rate passed 340 per million residents, more than 100 times the rate in China (3.32 per million), according to Time Magazine.
The US has the most coronavirus cases and the most deaths of any country in the world. The two hardest hit states have been New York, which had almost three in 10 US deaths, and New Jersey with one in 10 deaths.
A team of researchers from the University of the Philippines Diliman earlier said infections could reach 40,000 by the end of June.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte was expected yesterday to announce his decision on whether to further ease the lockdown in Manila, the capital and nearby cities.
DoH had been reporting fewer deaths of late.
Ms. Vergeire earlier said most of the reported deaths this month were from the previous months because of late validation.
She said on June 11 DoH had approved the guidelines for expanded targeted testing, which would now cover frontliners in quarantine facilities, village health emergency response teams, prison and jail employees and social workers.
Pregnant women, people who undergo high-risk operations, detainees, institutionalized people, those undergoing dialysis, chemotherapy and radiotherapy and those with immuno-compromised conditions like people with HIV will also be prioritized.
Other frontliners would only be tested if they had close contact with probable and confirmed patients, while those who are at risk of getting the virus would be tested only upon doctors’ recommendations, Ms. Vergeire said.
She also said the test need not be repeated before a patient can be sent home.
The coronavirus has sickened eight million and killed about 436,000 people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.
About 4.2 million people have recovered from the disease, it said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez