FEWER FILIPINOS infected with the novel coronavirus are dying compared with the rest of the world, an academic health expert said on Sunday.

The Philippines has a fatality rate of about 4% compared with the global average of 5.6%, John Wong, a professor at the Ateneo de Manila University’s School of Medicine and Public Health said at an online news briefing.

“Over time, our case fatality rate has continued to go down,” he said. Back in May, the death rate was 5.5%.

Still, the country’s fatality 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.

The Philippine Department of Health (DoH) reported 538 new coronavirus infections yesterday, bringing the total to 25,930.

The death toll rose to 1,088 after 14 more patients died, while 248 more patients have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 5,954, it said in a bulletin.

Of the new cases, 366 results were reported in the past three days, while 173 were reported late, DoH said.

There were 18,612 active coronavirus cases in the country — 349 did not show any symptoms, 18,138 were mild cases, 63 were severe and 17 were critical cases.

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 is expected to announce on Monday his decision on whether to further ease the lockdown in Manila, the capital and nearby cities.

DoH has been reporting fewer deaths of late.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told the same briefing that of the reported deaths this month, most were from the previous months because of late validation.

Mr. Wong said death reporting has improved to a seven-day delay from 22 days.

Ms. Vergeire said the public must remain vigilant and continue observing physical distancing, wear masks and wash their hands frequently.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire on June 11 said Health Undersecretary Francisco T. Duque III had approved the guidelines for expanded targeted testing.

The expanded testing will 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 7.9 million and killed more than 432,000 people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.

About four million people have recovered from the disease, it said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas