The country's mortality rate from COVID-19 is falling despite the reported figures in the last two days, the Department of Health (DOH) said Sunday, noting that the apparent increase in deaths was the result of reporting delays.
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In a virtual press conference Sunday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on June 12, the department reported 16 deaths, and on June 13, 22 deaths, causing concerns that the number of deaths was rising again.
But Vergeire said that of the 22 deaths reported on June 13, only four died in the month of June, one each on June 3, 4, 6 and 9.
The remaining 18 deaths occurred in the previous months but were only recently submitted to the DOH Epidemiology Bureau.
Dr. John Wong of Epimetrics, Inc., Ateneo professor and part of the data analytics group of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF), said the good news is that the Philippines case fatality rate (CFR) is 4.7, which is below the global CFR of over 5.
“The pandemic we are experiencing right now is a first in many ways. And, as such, the reporting and validating of cases is an evolving science, which is why we encounter several challenges along the way,” Vergeire said. “Our cases are not rising as they were in March and April.”
She also said big improvements were being made in the reporting of cases. Before, delays could go as high as 20 days. Now, they are down to seven or eight days, she said.
She also said the decline in deaths was made possible by the people's sacrifices, particularly to protect the elderly and the vulnerable.
However, Vergeire reminded the public to remain vigilant to ensure the downward trend continues.
On Sunday, the DOH reported an increase of 539 new cases, 366 of them fresh and 173 of them late, bringing the total to 25,930 COVID-19 cases in the Philippines.
The DOH also reported 14 new fatalities, bringing the death toll in the country to 1,088, and 248 cases of recovery, bringing the total number of people who recovered from COVID-19 to 5,954.
Senate President Vicente Sotto III said he believes Metro Manila should remain in a general community quarantine (GCQ) until June 30 because he saw no decline in the number of new cases and deaths.
READ: DND opting for modified GCQ
Senator Juan Edgardo Angara agreed and said some areas with a high concentration of cases could return to the stricter enhanced community quarantine (ECQ).
The Department of Foreign Affairs on Sunday said that 116 more overseas Filipinos have recovered from the coronavirus disease, bringing the total recoveries to 2,485.
The DFA also said 29 new confirmed COVID-19 infections, bringing the total to 5,519 cases with 2,634 patients still undergoing treatment.
The total number of recoveries was almost 2,500, or about 45 percent of the total confirmed cases, the DFA said.
Five more fatalities brought the death toll to 400.
The DFA said the total infections in the Asia Pacific region rose to 560, 455 of which have recovered. Two died and 103 are still undergoing treatment.
COVID-19 cases in the Middle East and Africa also rose to 3,406. Among them, 1,379 have recovered, 147 died and 1,880 are undergoing treatment.
In Europe, total infections rose to 877 with 299 recoveries, 91 fatalities, and 487 patients still undergoing treatment.
Total infections also climbed in the Americas to 676, of which 352 have recovered, 160 have died, and 164 are still undergoing treatment.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Sunday revealed that a total of 68 employees of the Department of Justice and four of its outsourced personnel tested positive for the novel coronavirus during the two-day rapid antibody test conducted last week.
Guevarra said that from 59 cases last Wednesday, the number of personnel who were tested positive for COVID-19 rose to 68 after 536 employees were subjected to the rapid antibody test. The DOJ has more than 700 employees.
Besides the 68, there were also four outsourced, non-DOJ employees, consisting of security guards and maintenance personnel, who tested positive.
However, Guevarra said at this stage it is still not yet certain that all the 72 employees and non-employees were infected by the virus, since they still have to undergo confirmatory swab tests.
READ: PH virus cases near 24,000