Malacañang on Wednesday claimed that the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is over since the country has been able to improve its health care capacity significantly.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque responded to the latest Social Weather Stations (SWS) survey showing that more Filipinos believe that “the worst of the COVID-19 crisis is yet to come.”
“I understand the pessimism of our citizens because the situation is really difficult now. But all I can say is, the worst is over,” he said in Filipino, in an interview over state-run PTV-4.
Roque said the country hit rock bottom when it entered into recession for the first time in almost 30 years last month with a 16.5-percent economic plunge in the second quarter due to the lockdowns.
But now that the economy has started to open up, he said Filipinos must learn to live with the virus by maintaining minimum health standards at all times.
New COVID-19 cases top 3,000 for 9th straight day
The Philippines logged 3,550 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic started to 272,934.
This is the ninth straight day in which more than 3,000 new cases were reported.
The DOH also logged 69 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 4,732.
Health officials also announced 524 recoveries, bringing the total number of patients who have recovered from the disease to 207,858.
There are currently 60,344 active cases 87.7 percent of which are mild, 8.4 percent of which are asymptomatic; 1.2 percent of which are severe; and 2.7 percent of which are critical.
The Philippines has tested 3,008,239 individuals for COVID-19.
COVID-19 cases up in 53 areas
The Department of Health (DOH) has seen increasing COVID-19 cases in 53 areas, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Wednesday.
“Comparing August 31 to September 13 to August 17 to 30, overall, there are 53 areas consisting of provinces, highly urbanized cities, and independent component cities with percentage increases in the number of cases,” Vergeire said in an online forum.
“We are closely monitoring these and have coordinated with LGUs (local government units),” Vergeire said.
Vergeire also said that the DOH observed four new clustering of cases in Calabarzon and Bulacan province.
Government testing claim disputed
A microbiologist from the University of the Philippines-OCTA Research team on Wednesday contested the Duterte administration’s claim that the Philippines has the best COVID-19 testing record in Asia.
“Respectfully to the Secretary (Harry Roque), many of the countries, especially in North Asia, have had such robust testing and contact tracing protocols that their pandemics never really exploded in the way that ours did in July,” Fr. Nicanor Austriaco said on the ANC news channel.
“We are testing so much, and yet the total number of cases is quite high here in the Philippines, sadly,” he added.
He was referring to the statement of Roque that the country has “the best testing policy in the whole of Asia and probably in the whole world” since out of the country’s 100 million population, three million have already been tested for COVID-19. – Rio N. Araja
More remdesivir on the way
Another batch of 1,000 vials of the antiviral drug remdesivir is set to be received by the Philippines for the ongoing Solidarity Trial of the World Health Organization (WHO), a Department of Health (DOH) official said on Wednesday.
“This is good news for us, because the shipment of remdesivir is arriving. Including the interferon. And this is the third shipment,” Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said during a virtual briefing.
“We are going to receive 1,000 vials coming from WHO,” Vergeire said.
The Solidarity Trial is a multi-country clinical trial facilitated by the WHO in search for off-label drugs that may help treat COVID-19 patients.
The Solidarity Trial started four months ago and initially included hydroxychloroquine and ritonavir, which were later removed from the trial because they did not show positive effects.
DOH, DILG work with private groups
The Department of Health (DOH) and Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) on Wednesday signed a partnership agreement with the private sector for the BIDA ang May Disiplina: Solusyon sa COVID-19 national advocacy campaign.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III and DILG Secretary Eduardo Año said the participation of the private sector and local celebrities in the campaign will significantly boost its cause and encourage more citizens to have individual self-discipline, especially now that there are reports of deliberate violations of health protocols being posted on social media.
“Public-private cooperation is indeed an ideal solution to our present situation to defeat COVID-19 as it augments both local and national government’s efforts and resources,” the Duque said.