The government wants to limit the movement of young people and advised them to stay at home for they play a big role in the spread of COVID-19, Palace spokesman Harry Roque said Wednesday.
“We are doing this based on science. It has been shown that in addition to the threat to young people, it is a fact that they are the spreaders. That’s the more important consideration,” Roque said in an interview over ANC’s Headstart program.
READ: Workers in a fix amid virus threat
“Young people, according to studies and this is now accepted, are actually the spreaders in any pandemic. That’s why we are trying to limit the movement of young people,” Roque said.
He said many young people who are below 21 years old may be infected by the coronavirus—even if they don't show symptoms—and have likely played a role in the spread of the virus.
The Palace official has advised young people as well as senior citizens to stay at home unless they need to obtain essential goods and services.
In the interview, Roque encouraged young people to abstain from going to malls or gathering in groups and said they should avoid any unnecessary trips.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, meanwhile, reported that the COVID-19 mortality rate continues to fall, after the Philippines recorded its lowest number of deaths in a single day on June 1.
READ: Cases surge; GCQ in MM
At a virtual press conference, Vergeire also emphasized how the average number of deaths recorded per day has been dropping over the past few weeks.
Starting at an average of 25.3 deaths every day in April, this has dropped to 1.6 deaths a day by the end of May, she said.
The steady decrease in the number of recorded deaths per day is an indicator that the country’s hospitals and health facilities are successfully coping with COVID-19 cases, she added.
At the same time, Vergeire said, some COVID-19 cases may have been counted twice.
“After the laboratories submitted their complete line list, we found out that many of the 23,000 recorded cases were duplicates from other laboratories,” Vergeire said in Filipino.
Vergeire said 38 of 42 reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) laboratories have already submitted their complete line list, which lists tests conducted by laboratories from the time they began operating.
In validating cases, a laboratory has to send their full line list of positive patients to the epidemiology bureau, which identifies and removes duplicate entries such as multiple tests done for one patient.
The epidemiology bureau proceeds then to identify new confirmed cases that have not been previously encoded in the system.
“If all laboratories submit their daily accomplishment reports on time, we won’t have backlogs for validation anymore and we will only be reporting fresh cases,” Vergeire said. “When this happens, we can say that the daily situation is more accurate based on the new cases added on our case bulletin.”
On Tuesday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 63 more health care workers have been infected by COVID-19, bringing the total to 2,669 as of June 1.
The DOH said 1,438 of these health workers have recovered from the respiratory illness, while the death toll has remained at 32 since May 29.
The other 1,199 medical workers are active cases and are undergoing treatment or are under quarantine.
Of the number, 997 are mild cases, 201 are asymptomatic, while one is in severe condition.
Health workers still account for 15 percent of the total cases nationwide.
A Supreme Court associate justice meanwhile revealed that some lower court judges in the National Capital Region refused to undergo rapid testing for coronavirus.
During a virtual seminar about “Challenges to Rendering Justice During and After the Pandemic” hosted by the Court Appointments Watch, Associate Justice Marvic Leonen expressed disappointment over the refusal of some judges to get tested for COVID-19.
Leonen said the SC has offered first and second court judges the opportunity to undergo rapid testing as part of its measures to prevent spread of COVID-19 infections among justices, judges court employees and litigants.
The magistrate admitted that he was disappointed because of the different excuses being given by judges who did not avail of the rapid testing.
“Here we are, the Court spending as much of its resources as possible to protect its personnel and they do not want to take advantage of it,” he said.
READ: Palace defends GCQ move, cites need to boost economy
Court Administrator Jose Midas Marquez said the free rapid testing was offered only to National Capital Judicial Region (NCJR) because NCR is the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
“It was voluntary so there were a number of judges who availed. Others maybe did not see the need because they had no symptoms,” he said.
There are around 400 lower court judges in the NCJR.
Marquez said some judges didn’t avail of the rapid testing because some local government units such as Marikina and Paranaque have made such tests available tot heir constituents.
As of May 31, a total of 1,698 Supreme Cout personnel including five justices have tested negative for coronavirus diseases (COVID-19) after undergoing rapid tests that started last May 26.
The rapid testing will continue until all of the 2,700 officials and employees have been tested as part of the SC’s complementary efforts to the government’s drive against COVID-19.
Earlier, Chief Justice Diosdado Peralta announced that all courts nationwide will be fully operational starting June 1, although there would be a limit to the number of people who will be allowed inside the courts.
Cases, pleadings, and required documents may still be filed either manually or electronically.
Also on Wednesday, Senator Franklin Drilon on Wednesday proposed to use the 5 percent franchise tax on Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGOs) to fund the government expenses for COVID-19 activities.
"This is a significant amount that the government should be able to utilize. We must exert every effort to make these POGOs comply with our tax laws and settle their unpaid dues. This is nothing compared to the social problems their continued presence has brought to the country," Drilon said.
"The main justification for allowing the POGOs to stay in the country and even to operate ahead of other businesses during the enhanced community quarantine was to help fund the COVID-19 measures. My amendment will bring teeth to this policy," he added.