THE presidential palace on Thursday denied there was a government attempt to lie about the extent of coronavirus infections in the country, as cases neared 28,000.

“There is a need to improve reporting of the data to make it accurate but no one is lying,” presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque said at a news briefing.

This comes after the government fired a prominent doctor as a COVID-19 adviser after reporting contrary reports to media. President Rodrigo R. Duterte back his removal, Mr. Roque said.

Meanwhile, the Department of Health reported 562 new coronavirus infections yesterday, bringing the total to 27,799.

The death toll rose to 1,116 after nine more patients died, while 270 more patients have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 7,090, it said in a bulletin.

Of the new cases, 481 results were released in the past three days, while 81 were reported late, DoH said.

The country had 19,310 active cases as of June 17, 97% of whom showed mild symptoms, according to the Health department. There were 60 laboratories licensed to test COVID-19 samples.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire urged the public to wear masks, observe social distancing and wash their hands frequently to prevent the virus from spreading.

“We all have a very important role to play,” she said at an online news briefing. “The disease won’t spread if we follow personal preventive measures.”

The Office of the Ombudsman on Wednesday said it had formed two teams to investigate alleged anomalies at the Health department in connection with the country’s battle against the coronavirus.

Health officials have been criticized for the delays in reporting, buying personal protective equipment and the processing of benefits for health workers who died and got ill.

DoH has said it would cooperate with the Ombudsman probe. It added that it had been transparent in reporting cases, and cash benefits had been released to health workers. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez