THE Department of Health reported 1,594 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 72,269.

The death toll rose to 1,843 after six more patients died, while recoveries increased by 342 to 23,623, it said in a bulletin.

Health Director Beverly Lorraine Ho said 1.19 million tests have been conducted covering 1.1 million people. She added that 95,167 tests were positive, resulting in a positivity rate of 8.6%.

Ms. Ho said it now takes 8.47 days for cases to double, longer than 8.18 days last week. “This is a good indication,” because it meant the infection rate had slowed, she told an online news briefing.

She said that while the time it takes for cases to double had slightly plateaued, the 30-day target was still far away.

“It means that while the rise in infections was being controlled and managed, we haven’t cut the number of new cases,” she said in Filipino.

The reproductive number of the viruses has increased to 1.58 as of June 24 from 1.23 in June 22, meaning a positive person could infect two more people, she said.

Meanwhile, the provinces of Batanes, Quirino, Aurora and Dinagat Islands were coronavirus-free, she said.

Meanwhile, the presidential palace said the government would use pooled testing to maximize resources against the COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019) pandemic.

“The proposal now and I’m sure it will be acted upon is to accompany localized testing with intensified testing using not just ordinary polymerase chain reaction (PCR) but pooled testing,” Presidential Spokesman Harry L. Roque told CNN Philippines.

Under the method, swabs of up to 10 people will go through one single PCR-test. The process is more cost-effective and more accurate compared with rapid testing, he added.

Mr. Roque said coronavirus cases would continue to rise as the government boosts its testing capacity. He added that more positive cases were inevitable because of higher testing capacity.

He said Metro Manila could still revert to a modified strict lockdown if the virus situation gets out of hand.

“We’ve come to a very crucial point where I think the economy can no longer afford to be shut down anew but if we have to and there’s no alternative,” he said. “We need to do it.”

President Rodrigo R. Duterte locked down the entire Luzon island in mid-March, suspending work, classes and public transportation to contain a coronavirus pandemic.

People should stay home except to buy food and other basic goods, he said. The President extended the strict lockdown twice for the island and thrice for Manila, the capital and nearby cities.

The lockdown in most areas have since been eased, with more businesses allowed to reopen with minimal workforce. Mass gatherings remained banned. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez