The Philippines saw an increase of 1,494 infections of the coronavirus on Saturday—the second straight day of reports around the 1,500 level—which brought the national total to 41,830, according to the Department of Health.
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This developed as the DOH said beginning next week, it would do away with breaking down cases into “fresh” and “late” cases.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the agency would present cases in a graph, indicating the trend for the past three days.
With the modified format, Vergeire said the DOH was hoping to provide a comprehensive picture of the reported cases, as well as avoid confusion among the public.
Of the number reported as of 4 p.m. Saturday, 403 are “fresh” cases and 1,091 are “late” cases, the DOH COVID-19 Case Bulletin No. 112 showed.
The department also reported an additional 10 fatalities, bringing the death toll to 1,290. It said 380 other persons recovered from the disease as of yesterday, bringing the total recoveries to 11,453.
“Today’s fresh cases are based on the daily accomplishment reports submitted by only 60 out of 73 current operational labs,” said the DOH.
“Of the 10 reported deaths, 8 (80 percent) occurred in June. The total cases reported may be subject to change as these numbers undergo constant cleaning and validation,” it added.
Meanwhile, the DOH said the record-high daily number of COVID-19 cases reported on Friday was due to the change in the time for the extraction of data.
Last July 3, the total number of COVID-19 surpassed the 40,000 mark after 1,531 more cases were recorded.
Vergeire told the Laging Handa public briefing: “We are building a system, a new means of reporting where we won’t show late and fresh cases. What we will show are the additional cases coming in.”
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Because of the shorter time of data extraction prior to reporting of cases, Vergeire said cases that were unaccounted for the previous day were added to the number of cases reported on Friday.
On Thursday, July 2, the Philippines logged 294 new cases.
At the same time, Vergeire noted that several clinical trials for a COVID-19 vaccine had been ongoing in different countries.
She said: “We want to join [the clinical trials]. In fact, we have already sent a letter of intent to join the WHO Solidarity Trial for the vaccine. This is being processed.”
The DOH is also in talks with four manufacturing firms abroad and has signified Manila’s interest to participate in their future clinical trials, she said.
Meanwhile, some doctors have started reopening their clinics in hospitals at limited capacity, a Philippine Medical Association official said Saturday.
With “looser lockdown protocols,” clinics have started accepting patients but only under an appointment scheme to lessen chances of virus contamination, PMA Vice President Benito Atienza said at a virtual press briefing on state-run TV Saturday, which was beamed nationwide.
Atienza added that clinics were only allowed to accept patients physically at 20-percent capacity.
Doctors and their secretaries are also required to wear full personal protective equipment, and the air conditioning is shut off.
Meanwhile, patients are required to sign various forms, such as a waiver, for contact tracing purposes.
In a related development, Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte reminded barangay officials to strictly enforce general community quarantine (GCQ) guidelines after clustering and community transmission of coronavirus disease 2019 cases were observed in some areas.
“We have been informed that most of the causes for the spread of COVID-19 cases in areas that were recently placed under special concern lockdown (SCL) were due to various unauthorized activities, which were regrettably preventable,” Belmonte said in a statement.
“There were reports that residents in the said areas had drinking sessions, boodle fights, wakes that exceeded limitations in duration and number of attendees, and even played basketball and volleyball,” she added.
On Thursday, Belmonte met separately with barangay captains from all 142 barangays per district, to reiterate their responsibility in enforcing national and local GCQ regulations to control the spread of COVID-19.
The mayor also traced to videoke sessions and birthday parties the causes of transmission in some areas, even as she noted additional numbers of COVID-19 cases found in SCL areas were alarming.
These were revealed after the conduct of intensive contact tracing, rapid testing, and PCR testing, as part of the health interventions being done by the City during the implementation of the lockdown period, she said.
At the meeting, Belmonte stressed the responsibilities of barangay captains in strictly enforcing within their respective jurisdictions the wearing of face masks, physical distancing, and prohibition of mass gatherings.
Barangays were also directed to make apprehensions against violators, conduct foot patrols to disseminate information to residents, enforce the public safety hours of 10 p.m. to 5 a.m., and strictly regulate the sale of liquor which is allowed only between 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
“We also remind barangay officials that the Department of the Interior and Local Government (DILG) is constantly monitoring if they are cooperating with the city government. Failure to do so may lead to the filing of administrative cases against both local and barangay officials,” she said.
Belmonte said the city, Philippine National Police, and barangays are set to release joint protocols to ensure the smooth coordination and uniform implementation of enforcement procedures and penalties in the communities.