'Cases up abroad too': Roque plays down high daily COVID-19 case increases
File photo shows presidential spokesperson Harry Roque.
The STAR/Joven Cagande

'Cases up abroad too': Roque plays down high daily COVID-19 case increases

(Philstar.com) - August 5, 2020 - 1:43pm

'Deaths are within acceptable threshold'

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos should consider that other COVID-19 cases are also rising abroad, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said, as he cautioned against having a "wrong view" of the cases in the Philippines—which recorded over 6,000 additional patients on Tuesday night and 3,000 more the night before, the Palace said Wednesday. 

This is hardly a comfort for Filipinos in the Philippines, who would mostly be focused on local cases and how the pandemic has affected their lives.

Speaking in an interview over CNN Philippines, Roque downplayed record high daily tallies, pointing out that other countries are also struggling with the virus and that "we are not alone."

Roque also pointed out that only five out of every 100 Filipinos who get COVID-19 have died.

“It’s not as if it’s just happening in the Philippines. Let’s not have this wrong view that only the Philippines is having this many increases in cases...We are keeping deaths at the minimum. We're way within the threshold of 5-percent mortality rate considered as acceptable by the international community,” Roque said, insisting that it is “understandable” for cases to increase because of the country’s increased testing capacity.

"Overseas, they have confirmed that is has mutated. It has become far more infectious — five times more infectious. We don’t know yet scientifically if it has come to our shores, but most likely it has. It’s a matter of time perhaps before the [University of the Philippines] Genome Center can confirm it but it’s a reality that everyone in this planet will have to face," he said.

According to a July 16 article on The Scientific American, there are indications that an amino acid in the virus has changed but also points out that "virologists are far from a consensus about the possible role of this mutation."

Researchers from the University of the Philippines have also warned that COVID-19 cases could breach 100,000 in the country by the end of August, though that number had already been breached on August 2. 

For weeks now, health authorities have been recording at least 2,000 new cases per day, though they hold that this is simply because of heightened testing capabilities. As of this publishing, the Philippines has beat out China and is set to surpass Indonesia in coronavirus cases.

Roque in the same interview disclosed that the government was looking at deploying police officers to take care of contact tracing once more.

President Rodrigo Duterte himself has held the same logic as his spokesperson when defending his administration's performance in dealing with the global pandemic, saying late Sunday night that "nobody in this world was really prepared to deal with it...it is wallowing the rest of the world and we would be no exception." 

FACT CHECK: Philippines early to adopt travel ban, lockdown but not first to do so

He also claimed at the same address that: "In only a matter of 48 hours upon advice, I already suspend — I already well, suspended the way of the usual life and tried to sequester you inside the quarantine of your homes."

"What I said earlier in the early days of this pandemic thing, I said that you know, be careful," Duterte added. 

Calls for a travel ban had been mounting long before the government actually announced it in response to the first confirmed cases in the Philippines, travelers from Wuhan, China.

Addressing these calls earlier in the year, Duterte said that a travel ban covering all of mainland China would adversely affect the country's relations with the regional giant. The president also said the calls for a ban were xenophobic. — Franco Luna

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