DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III speaks at a pressconference in Quezon City as The Department of Health (DOH) on Sunday confirmed another case of the novel coronavirus in the Philippines, bringing total number of confirmed cases in the country to two, February 02, 2020.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
DOH: Too early to tell if Philippines winning against COVID-19
( - March 26, 2020 - 12:48pm

MANILA, Philippines — Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said that it was still too early to tell whether the tide against the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) had shifted amid the enhanced community quarantine. 

As of this writing, the national count of COVID-19 patients has eclipsed 600 after the Department of Health recorded 84 more patients on Wednesday. This, as the country is still under a nationwide state of calamity after President Rodrigo Duterte said that the number of cases was still steadily rising despite government intervention. 

According to the health chief, the Philippines was looking to take the lead of Wuhan, the pathogen's place of origin, in dealing with the virus. 

“It is hard to say right now. It is still too early and premature,” Duque said in Filipino on Thursday in an interview with radio dzBB.

“The cases there [in Wuhan] only really started going down in March, at around the first weeks of March,” he added.

"Right now, it is down to zero to just one case per day, and they're mostly imported cases."

Mass testing

Duque again expressed apprehension towards the idea of implementing mass testing measures in the country.

"That's hard to do. How do you identify mass testing? Will you need each and every Filipino to be tested? No other country can do mass testing to that extent. You'll need to rationalize that. For me, we'll prioritize vulnerable, high risk groups," he said in a mix of Filipino and English.

"Testing isn't medicine or treatment. If you know you have [similar] symptoms, like shortness of breath, fever, dry cough, colds, you have to manage it as COVID-19 already."

"If you have these symptoms, why wait for a test? Do it already. You assume [that you have it.]"

The health chief also disclosed that the department had already reached out to China to ask for more test kits, although he said there was no guarantee yet that their request would be granted. — Franco Luna

As It Happens
LATEST UPDATE: April 4, 2020 - 4:09pm

Follow this page for updates on a mysterious pneumonia outbreak that has struck dozens of people in China.

April 4, 2020 - 4:09pm

The Department of Health reports 76 more local cases of the coronavirus disease 2019, bringing the official tally to 3,094 from the previous count of 3,018.

April 3, 2020 - 12:58pm

The Philippine Health Insurance Corp. assures the public that they will shoulder the full cost of treatment for all COVID-19 patients until April 14, 2020.

"The reason for this accommodation window is due to the novelty and the wide range of severity of the disease in the country for which no existing case rate or package based on accepted protocols has yet been established," it says in a statement.

Philhealth says they will issue a new set of guidelines after the final protocol is established.

April 3, 2020 - 10:22am

The UN General Assembly has approved a resolution calling for "international cooperation" and "multilateralism" in the fight against COVID-19, in the first text to come out of the international body since the pandemic's outbreak.

The resolution, which was approved by consensus, also stresses "the need for full respect for human rights" and that "there is no place for any form of discrimination, racism and xenophobia in the response to the pandemic." — AFP

April 3, 2020 - 8:04am

The cruise ship Zaandam, which has dozens of ill passengers on board and was not allowed to dock in several South American countries, arrivsd Thursday in port in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

The liner was finally cleared for docking after long negotiations between Holland America Line, local and state officials, and the US Coast Guard, to ensure the safe disembarkation of the healthy — and the sick. — AFP

April 2, 2020 - 5:02pm

The Department of Health confirms 11 COVID-19 patients have died in the Philippines, raising the total number of fatalities to 107.

The Philippines also recorded 322 new coronavirus cases, bringing the national total to 2,633.

As of Thursday afternoon, one additional patient recovered from the deadly virus, bringing the total number of recoveries to 51.

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