The Department of Health on Sunday announced that 50 patients lost their battle against COVID-19, the biggest number of deaths recorded in the Philippines in a single day.
With the latest figure, the death toll from the new coronavirus jumped to 297 as of 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 12.
The total number of confirmed cases in the country is now at 4,648 after 220 new cases were listed during the same period.
The DOH also announced 40 new recoveries, which brought the total number of recoveries to 197.
The DOH was quiet over the sudden spike in the death toll.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said it is still too early to say if the country is already on the road to flattening the curve on new infections.
Health Secretary Francisco Duque III joined the Field Implementation and Coordination Team emergency meeting with NCR Medical Center Chiefs in a video conference at EAMC Sunday morning.
Duque acknowledged the many challenges faced by health facilities at the frontlines of the COVID-19 response and the creative and innovative ways by which they have addressed these, and reassured the medical center chiefs of the department’s continued support and assistance.
Duque also said how inspired he was by the sense of community in health facilities whose members, caring deeply about the safety and well-being of their colleagues, contribute fiercely to efforts such as providing more PPEs and supplies, looking for needed suppliers and service providers, and reaching out to authorities to relay their concerns.
“This truly reflects the bayanihan spirit necessary to win the fight against COVID-19. However, to become more agile and more responsive, we have to be organized. We need to consolidate and avoid duplication of our efforts,” he said.
Medical center chiefs were reminded to maintain open lines of communication with their teams to inform them of actions taken to address their operational concerns.
The DOH also urged them and health care workers to immediately report concerns directly to the DOH and the public to be more circumspect in posting information that can unduly cause panic.
As this developed, the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. reported that, to date, a total of P4.1 billion have now been approved and are currently being released to various hospitals with COVID-19 cases.
PhilHealth said this would ensure that hospitals are provided with needed funds to cover the costs of treating COVID-19 patients.
The PhilHealth releases will also allow financial liquidity in hospitals to procure the much needed testing kits, medicines, personal protective equipment, and other medical supplies.
At the Palace, Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles, spokesman for the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases said the government will now require COVID-19 patients to disclose personal information to enhance contact-tracing efforts.
The Office of Civil Defense, in coordination with other agencies and local government units, was tasked to lead the contact-tracing efforts.
The OCD and the Department of Health were directed to enter into a data-sharing agreement in accordance with the Data Privacy Act.
Under the law, a person’s health condition is classified as sensitive personal information that can only be used with the consent of the person or patient.
On March 28, the IATF ordered all health facilities to get the consent of infected patients before disclosing their identities to the public.
Earlier, doctors and lawyers urged COVID-19 patients and persons suspected of carrying the virus to waive the confidentiality of their medical condition to help authorities conduct timely contact tracing.
Since the disease entered the country, the DOH never disclosed the names of the COVID-19 patients and only identified them through numbers. It only included in its reports their gender, age, travel history, and other medical concerns.
Also on Sunday, Assistant Minority Leader and ACT Teachers Party-List Rep. France Castro urged the government to include in its weekly report the number of persons tested for COVID-19 aside from new confirmed cases, deaths, and recoveries, and the transmission pattern at the subnational level.
“Starting with his third report and public address this Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte should be more forthcoming with data pertaining to the scope of transmission in the country,” Castro said.
Castro noted that DOH after April 4 stopped reporting the number of individuals tested. “Of course, the prerequisite for these data required by the WHO [World Health Organization] is the systematic testing of all persons showing symptoms,” she said.
“The DOH should show its testing capacity or how many people it has tested for infection, which was only 48 PUIs per million Filipinos as of April 4, a far cry from our Asian neighbors. A low testing capacity means deflated reporting of the number of persons with COVID-19,” she added.
The Alliance of Health Workers and its affiliated unions on Sunday demanded that the Department of Health consistently posts on its official website all reports relative to COVID-19 cases.
On its regular posting, the DOH should include the specific numbers of health workers categorized as positive for COVID-19 and the number of PUIs and PUMs per hospital or health facility.
On Sunday, the Quezon City government said the city has 764 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
At least 10 COVID-19 patients were able to recover from the disease, while 60 died from the disease.
Some 31 villages – Tandang Sora, Kalusugan, Ramon Magsaysay, Maharlika, Tatalon, Batasan Hills, Pasong Tamo, Central, San Roque,Paligsahan, Bagong Lipunan ng Crame, South Triangle, Culiat, Bahay Toro, San Isidro Labrador, Old Balara, Teachers Village West, Manresa, Paltok, Sto. Domingo, Bagong Silangan, Holy Spirit, Payatas, Marilag, Socorro, Kamuning, Pinyahan, San Isidro Galas, Commonwealth and Pansol – were placed under extreme lockdown.
The city government said as of last Saturday, the Hope 1 facility has reached its full capacity with 23 COVID-19 positive patients and 17 persons under investigation.
On the other hand, the Hope 2 facility still has 123 beds available for use of COVID-19 patients and PUIs.