Philippines COVID-19 cases hit 90,000, surpassing China
Based on the DOH’s Case Bulletin for COVID-19, there were 93,354 cases documented as of July 31, while a situationer report of the WHO showed that China had 87,245 cases as of July 30.?
AFP/Prakash Mathema

Philippines COVID-19 cases hit 90,000, surpassing China

Sheila Crisostomo (The Philippine Star) - August 1, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines has overtaken China in the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, data from the Department of Health (DOH) and World Health Organization (WHO) showed yesterday.

Based on the DOH’s Case Bulletin for COVID-19, there were 93,354 cases documented as of July 31, while a situationer report of the WHO showed that China had 87,245 cases as of July 30.

The DOH also posted yesterday a one-day record high of new cases at 4,063, bringing the total to 93,354. According to the DOH, total deaths rose to 2,023 due to 40 new fatalities recorded, while recoveries increased to 65,178 as 165 additional patients survived the virus.

In the WHO report, China and the Philippines topped 13 other countries in Western Pacific region in terms of having the most number of COVID-19 which was first detected in Wuhan City in China’s Hubei province late last year.
WHO data, however, shows that only the Philippines is having “community transmission” of the virus. The others are having either clustering or sporadic cases of COVID-19.
In third place is Singapore with 51,531 cases, followed by Japan with 33,049; Australia with 15,582, South Korea with 14,269 and Malaysia with 8,956 cases. In 8th place is New Zealand with 1,210 cases, Vietnam with 459, Mongolia with 291, Cambodia with 226, Brunei Darussalam with 141, Papua New Guinea with 63, Fiji with 27 and Lao People’s Democratic Republic with 20 cases.

Senators slammed yesterday officials of the DOH for providing inaccurate and misleading data on the coronavirus cases in the country as the lawmakers raised concerns that it could have life-threatening repercussions on Filipinos.

The lawmakers made the pronouncements as the DOH released figures on COVID-19 cases on Thursday that showed a huge jump in the number of recoveries – 38,075 – in one day, which the department attributed to enhanced data reconciliation efforts with local government units through Oplan Recovery.

The senators also questioned the DOH’s decision to classify confirmed cases as recovered if the patient has not exhibited symptoms after 14 days without having to undergo a confirmatory swab test.

“A government which can’t handle the truth can cause mass casualties,” Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto said in a statement.

“How many times have we been told that people died because one patient lied? The same honesty is demanded of government because one that can’t handle the truth can cause mass casualties,” he said.

He stressed truth is as important as testing, tracing and treatment in fighting the pandemic.

“Reality cannot be altered by changing the formula just to arrive at a certain conclusion,” Recto said.

He asked the DOH to provide a better explanation of the methodology it uses to come up with the figures, including a breakdown of cases per town, to give the public and policymakers “a high-resolution picture.”

Sen. Joel Villanueva warned the DOH that such classification as well as changing data formats showed that there is a problem with data interpretation and, worse, “it’s giving people a false sense of security.”

“Instead of mass testing, we have mass recovery,” Villanueva lamented.

Doctored data

Sen. Francis Pangilinan admonished the DOH to be transparent in reporting COVID-19 cases in the country and refrain from “doctoring” or “massaging” data to make it appear that the government is making headway in battling the pandemic.

“Is there a miracle? Is there magic? Doctors are supposed to heal patients, not doctor numbers and information,” Pangilinan said in Filipino.

He said the DOH’s new data “interpretation” might be dangerous as it gives the patients a false sense of security that they are already well without going through swab tests.

Pangilinan raised questions over the DOH’s new data reporting, asking how could it be certain that mild and asymptomatic cases are virus-free after 14 days, and whether or not doctors are now authorized to issue health clearance certificates to asymptomatic persons.

Sen. Risa Hontiveros said the new data set was suspicious and confusing even as she stressed that clear communication is what will earn the people’s trust.

“Data is vital. We cannot properly respond (to the pandemic) if we don’t have a complete picture,” Hontiveros said.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian suggested the DOH as well as the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases should automate their data collection and presentation.

“Because as we speak right now, data gathering inputting is still manual. They gather data by physical presence and they send the data by email. If they can do that online or in the cloud, that will be much more accurate and much faster. There’s a lot of things that need to be improved in terms of data gathering and data processing,” Gatchalian told ANC.

He also pressed for confirmatory tests for all those who are believed to have recovered from COVID-19.

He also called on the government to seriously consider the construction of field hospitals to augment and increase the capacity of hospitals accommodating COVID patients.

“Most hospitals now have reached full capacity of their COVID-19 dedicated beds. We cannot just sit back and remain idle while cases continue to spread throughout the country,” Gatchalian said. — Paolo Romero

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