Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said 71 new cases pushed to 707 the total number of COVID cases and seven new deaths brought to 45 the number of fatalities as of March 26.
AFP/Maria Tan
Coronavirus count: 71 new cases, 7 more deaths in Philippines
Mayen Jaymalin (The Philippine Star) - March 27, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 cases in the country jumped to 707 while the number of fatalities rose to 45, the Department of Health (DOH) reported yesterday.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said 71 new cases pushed to 707 the total number of COVID cases and seven new deaths brought to 45 the number of fatalities as of March 26.

A total of 172 Filipinos from 25 countries have tested positive for COVID-19. Of the number, Duque said the DOH was able to confirm 128.

The DOH, he said, has also received information concerning Filipino crew of Costa cruises who were being tested for possible infection.

Duque said COVID cases are expected to further rise as more people are tested for the infection.

“This is actually good because we will be able to confirm who are positive for the infection and allow us to isolate and treat them,” Duque pointed out.

After two more weeks of enhanced community quarantine, Duque said, the DOH would able to determine whether the number of COVID cases in the country has already flattened.

According to Duque, the DOH also recorded two more COVID patients who recovered from the illness.

“There are also two recoveries, bringing to 28 the number of patients who recovered from COVID,” Duque disclosed at the Laging Handa virtual press briefing.

Based on DOH data, there are 722 person under investigation (PUI) and 6,321 person under monitoring (PUM). All PUIs and PUMs are advised to stay at home.

The rising number of recoveries should stop the stigma against PUIs as well as health workers who, Duque stressed, should be honored for serving COVID patients.

Duque said they have recorded six doctors who died from COVID-related illnesses and the DOH is still gathering report from all hospitals across the country to ensure all health workers who succumb to the disease are given due recognition and compensation.

“Health workers who died of COVID will receive from the government P1 million to help those they have left behind,” Duque disclosed.

Those who would be infected would also be entitled to P100,000 as provided for under the newly signed Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

For the protection of health workers, Duque said the DOH has already distributed personal protective equipment.

While he has completed a 14-day quarantine, Duque said he is still working from home so he could recover from his cough due to asthma.

NKTI to accept PUIs

As the health system struggles to contain the virus, the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) said it is now admitting PUIs, contrary to an earlier announcement.

The NKTI earlier ruled out admitting PUIs, saying it is “dealing with highly immune-compromised patients” including transplant patients. “However, we are forced by circumstances to manage PUIs” as COVID-19-designated centers Lung Center of the Philippines and the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) “are also overwhelmed,” a statement from NKTI executive director Rose Marie Rosete-Liquete said.

“Thus we took it into our hands to innovate and strategize to manage them, not inside the hospital but in tents outside the hospital adjoining the emergency room,” she said.

She also appealed to the public for donations of medical supplies, surgical masks and alcohol.

Meanwhile, some local government units released their respective COVID-19 tallies.

In San Juan City, CIOVID-19 deaths have reached eight. The number of residents found positive for COVID-19 rose to 57 yesterday from 48 on Wednesday, with Greenhills posting the highest number of cases at 18 followed by West Crame at 12.

Mayor Francis Zamora appealed to residents to stay at home to prevent COVID-19 from spreading.

“We all want to win this battle vs COVID-19 and we will if we all do what it takes – stay home and keep safe,” he said in a statement.

One hundred two persons are classified as PUIs and 222 are categorized as PUMs.

To address the shortage of facilities for patients, the city government has entered into an agreement with Xavier School alumni for the conversion of the San Juan Science High School into a quarantine facility.

With a capacity of 100 beds, Zamora said the school is expected to ease the congestion in their medical facilities.

“Thank you very much to the entire Xavier School community for the support that you will be giving,” he said.

The provincial health office of Zambales confirmed that a retired US Navy man has tested positive for COVID-19, the first case in the province.

In a report, Dr. Noel Bueno, Zambales provincial Health officer 2, said the patient was a resident of Barangay San Gregorio in the town of San Antonio.

He frequently traveled between Cavite and Manila and returned to Zambales on March 15.

He developed fever and diarrhea on March 16 and sought medical consultation at Our Lady of Lourdes International Medical Center in Olongapo City and later at the President Ramon Magsaysay Memorial Hospital. He is currently under strict observation and monitoring at home.

In Negros province, three more PUIs have died, according to local health authorities.

Two of the three died on Wednesday at the Negros Oriental Provincial Hospital while waiting for their swab test results, according to Integrated Provincial Health Officer Dr. Liland Estacion.

The third PUI died in Binalbagan, Negros Occidental, of pneumonia and liver cirrhosis, according to a report of the Negros Occidental Provincial Health Office.

This brought to six the number of PUIs who died in Negros Island.

The Cotabato Regional Medical Center announced that its lone COVID-19 patient has recovered after two weeks of confinement.

“The patient has been discharged after recuperation,” Helen Yambao, chief of the CRMC, told reporters. Yambao said there are four patients in the CRMC considered as PUMs.

“But we can’t say yet if they are indeed COVID-19 patients for now,” she said.

The patient just released from confinement at CRMC, Cotabato City’s largest hospital, is one of the 215 Islamic Tabligh missionaries who participated in a gathering of more than 15,000 Muslim missionaries in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia early this month.

One of the Filipino Tablighs, an ethnic Maranaw, who joined the event in Kuala Lumpur died at the Amai Pakpak Medical Center in Marawi City more than a week ago.

The Bangsamoro regional government said it has identified 196 of the 215 Filipino Tablighs who traveled to Malaysia recently.

Asnin Pendatun, spokesman of the Bangsamoro Inter-Agency Task Force on COVID-19, said they now have the names of the Filipino Tablighs who traveled to Malaysia and they are now trying to locate them.

Northern Samar recorded a total of 101 PUIs as of March 25. Of the 101, four are confined in separate health facilities. Eighty-eight of the PUIs are experiencing mild symptoms and are under strict home isolation.

Meanwhile, a 65-year-old male patient of the Regional Trauma Hospital and Medical Center in Nueva Vizcxaya was confirmed to have died of COVID-19 infection based on test results that became available yesterday.

Nueva Vizcaya Gov. Carlos Padilla said the patient had underlying lung disease and had no travel history.

The patient had attended a wake in Solano with several other people who had come from Hong Kong. – Raymund Catindig, Ric Sapnu, Miriam Desacada, Emmanuel Tupas, Gilbert Bayoran, JohnUnson


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