PH virus cases balloon to 24

UPDATE: Duterte confirms 4 new cases in San Juan City, Quezon City and Bulacan

The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines has reached a total of 24 after the Department of Health reported 10 more cases on Monday, on top of the four cases announced Sunday night.

PH virus cases balloon to 20

President Rodrigo Duterte also disclosed Monday evening four new cases in West Crame in San Juan City, Santa Maria, Bulacan, and Project 6, Quezon City.

The 11th to 20th patients are all Filipinos, with the youngest being 24 years old, and the oldest 72.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said all test results from the new cases were released Monday after samples were collected from March 6 to 8. The 11th to 20th patients are all Filipinos, with the youngest being 24 years old, and the oldest 72. Of the 10 new cases, four patients had a history of travel abroad to the United Arab Emirates, Australia, Taiwan, and Japan.

DOH Medical Specialist IV Dr. Alethea de Guzman said five of the first 10 cases had a history of travel abroad while the remaining five have had no significant travel.

De Guzman also told the Senate economic affairs committee there are still 700 patients under investigation (PUIs) and 48 are currently admitted in different hospitals. A total of 646 have been discharged.

At present, she said 445 repatriates have remained at the Athletes’ Village in New Clark City, Capas, Tarlac. There were also 34 PUIs, more than half of whom tested negative. The rest were still awaiting lab results.

She also said the repatriates from the two cruise ships and from Macau have no PUIs. They were sent home for quarantine.

Dr. Gemma Arellano of the DOH Emergency Operations for COVID-19 had earlier expressed hope that an “epidemic surge” would not happen, as this would overwhelm the country’s health system.

“The fact that there is local transmission is a trigger for us that we need to step up our efforts. However, when there is an evidence of community transmission or epidemic surge, that means whatever additional efforts we are doing now need to be further scaled,” she said.

Globally, she said, 106,026 persons have been sickened with the new coronavirus. China has accounted for the most number of patients with 80,814 and 3,099 deaths. Outside of China, there are 25,212 confirmed cases in 101 countries with 493 deaths and 55 local transmissions.

Data from the World Health Organization showed that 96.5 percent of all cases are from China. It also said 94.8 percent are from Hubei province, where Wuhan, the epicenter of the novel coronavirus is located.

The four latest coronavirus patients in the country are getting medical attention in different private hospitals in Metro Manila.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the 38-year-old Taiwanese (7th case) with no recent travel history has been admitted to the Makati Medical Center and the 32-year-old Filipino (8th case) who traveled to

Japan has been confined in St. Luke’s Medical Center in Taguig City.

He also said the 86-year-old American (9th case) who traveled to the United States and South Korea is now in The Medical City in Ortigas while the 57-year-old Filipino (10th case) who has no recent travel history to COVID-19-hit countries is currently in St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City.

Duque said the decision to disclose the names of the hospitals where COVID-19 patients are being treated was aimed at combatting fake news.

He also assured the public that it was safe to go to these hospitals as all of them have the ability to manage the COVID-19 cases. “All of them are accredited and have high standards of care,” he said.

Marikina City Mayor Marcelino Teodoro earlier confirmed that the American male is a resident of his city.

The World Health Organization on Monday said the world has passed a “somber moment” as the spread of COVID-19 reached a new high.

“Not only have we passed the 100,000 cases confirmed globally, we also acknowledge now that more than 100 countries have confirmed COVID(19) cases,” said Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to the Philippines

As of Monday morning, the WHO global dashboard counted more than 106,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19 from 103 countries.

Duque said 53 of these countries’ transmissions are unrelated to China, the epicenter of disease.

“While the efforts in China have been successful in controlling the spread, we have been seeing localized outbreaks affecting many countries,” Abeyasinghe said.

Despite this, he said the WHO “reiterates we can still control the spread of the disease and prevent it from becoming a global pandemic.”

He also pointed out that at least 81 percent of the cases are mild.

He said those who developed critical and severe effects of the disease are elderly and have existing medical conditions.

Abeyasinghe reminded the public that COVID-19 is “largely transmitted through droplets” and there is no evidence it is airborne.

“This is why WHO continues to advocate the practicing of hand hygiene, cough etiquette, and social distancing.”

He said those who are most at risk, especially the elderly, should avoid going to crowded places.

Meanwhile, he advised those with respiratory symptoms in general not to go to work, school and to crowded places.

Abeyasinghe said that while it is most likely not COVID-19, people can help prevent the spread of other respiratory illnesses, as well.

The DOH in the Ilocos region said it would continue monitoring 170 people who came into contact with a Filipino-Australian woman infected with COVID-19, even after they tested negative, just to be sure.

The Filipino-Australian woman went to Pangasinan on Feb. 22 to attend a class reunion in Dagupan City. She returned to Manila on Feb. 23 and tested positive for COVID-19 after arriving in Australia on March 3.

The provincial government is looking for the others who attended the reunion.

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte issued a proclamation formally declaring a state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines.

READ: Duterte readies anti-virus EO

The proclamation enables government agencies and local government units to immediately act to prevent loss of life and use appropriate resources to carry out urgent and critical measures to contain or prevent the spread of COVID-19.

The proclamation would also facilitate the implementation of mandatory reporting, intensify government response and measures, and enforce quarantine and disease control prevention measures.

Two senators, meanwhile, chided the DOH for the lack of test kits.

In the Senate committee on economic affairs public hearing on the impact risk assessment of COVID-19, Senator Nancy Binay quizzed health officials about the number of testing kits available.

“As we speak today, our stock on hand is good for 2,000 tests,” replied Dr. Rossana Ditangco of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM).

Binay then asked if the DOH plans to procure additional testing kits.

Ditangco said RITM is requesting for P43 million to buy more kits and other “various needs.”

Binay pressed the DOH officials, saying without the test kits, there was no way to tell how serious the problem was.

“I don’t want to panic, but you’re making me panic,” she said, citing what seemed to be a lack of preparation for local transmission of COVID-19.

“We only have 2,000 testing kits [for a] 100 million population. Isn’t that scary?” she said in a mix of Filipino and English.

Bayan Muna Party-list Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate, meanwhile, hit Duque for not immediately declaring an epidemic of national concern when the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the country.

“He could have declared this on his own because this is within the powers of the Department of Health secretary under Republic Act No. 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health

Events of Public Concern Act but he dilly-dallied and even wrongly passed the buck to Malacañang,” Zarate said. With Joel E. Zurbano and Willie Casas

READ: Duterte suspends classes in Metro manila Until March 14

READ: Coping with Covid: 'No-touch' at PSG

Topics: COVID-19 , Department of Health , Francisco Duque III , Alethea de Guzman
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