The Department of Health (DoH) reported 244 new coronavirus infections on Friday, bringing the total to 20,626.
The death toll rose to 987 after three more patients died, while more have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 4,330, it said in a bulletin.
Of the new cases, 168 were reported in the past three days and 76 were reported late.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said daily testing capacity had reached 10,000, allowing the government to expand the testing coverage to people who don’t show symptoms.
“It doesn’t mean we will test everybody,” she told an online news briefing in Filipino. “With this expansion we will follow criteria on whom to test.”
Anna Ong-Lim, president of the Pediatric Infectious Disease Society of the Philippines, said relatives and colleagues of positive patients as well as health workers should be included in the expanded testing.
People with underlying medical conditions and the elderly should also be tested, she added.
Meanwhile, Maynilad Water Services, Inc. has reached an agreement with the De los Santos Medical Center to build a P15-million facility that will serve as a coronavirus disease 2019 testing center.
In a statement on Friday, the water utility said it had signed a deal with the hospital on a COVID-19 testing facility that will feature the reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction procedure.
Meanwhile, President Rodrigo R. Duterte has ordered Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III to form a new team that will handle the payouts for health workers who died and got critically ill in the line of duty.
The team should focus on the immediate delivery of the cash benefits to the health workers. “I expect it within 24 hours,” the President said in a taped address aired on Friday.
Maynilad is a company under infrastructure group Metro Pacific Investments Corp. (MPIC) while De los Santos is a member hospital of Metro Pacific Hospital Holdings, Inc. (MPHHI), MPIC’s medical arm.
MPIC, which has a majority stake in Maynilad, is one of three Philippine units of Hong Kong-based First Pacific, the others being Philex Mining Corp. and PLDT Inc. Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has interest in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Revin Mikhael D. Ochave