COVID-19 cases in the Philippines breach 311,000
In this Sept. 24, 2020, photo, medical technologists conduct swab tests at the Philippine Red Cross in Mandaluyong City.
The STAR/Michael Varcas
COVID-19 cases in the Philippines breach 311,000
( - September 30, 2020 - 4:00pm

MANILA, Philippines — The number of confirmed novel coronavirus infections in the Philippines rose to 311,694 on Wednesday after the Department of Health added 2,426 new cases to its tally. 

Of these cases, 52,702 are active, while recoveries are at 253,488. 

Meanwhile 58 new deaths were reported by the DOH today, brining the country's total death toll to 5,504. 

The DOH said Monday there is a seeming downtrend in the number of new infections but it advised the public to continue practicing minimum health standards.

Metro Manila, the epicenter of the country’s outbreak, will remain under a general community quarantine until the end of October. Other areas under GCQ include Batangas, Tacloban City, Bacolod City, Iligan City and Iloilo City.

Only Lanao del Sur, including Marawi City, will be under a stricter modified enhanced community quarantine beginning October 1.

Meanwhile, the rest of the country will be under modified GCQ, the most relaxed form of community quarantine. 

The government first imposed quarantine measures in mid-March to slow the spread of the new coronavirus but thousands of cases are still being reported every day.

It has been 197 days since the Philippines was first put under lockdown — the longest coronavirus-induced lockdown in the world. 

In the midst of an almost 200 day lockdown, lawmaker warns of 'looming hunger crisis' 

Malacañang on Monday said it was saddened by a recent national poll which found that 7.6 million Filipinos went hungry at least once in the last 3 months but held firm that employment opportunities are available to the public amid the pandemic.

The survey, conducted by the Social Weather Stations from September 17 to 20, showed that 30.7% of FIlipinos experienced hunger due to lack of food to eat amid the ongoing health crisis, higher than the 20.9% recorded in July. SWS said these figures were the highest recorded since the 23.8% logged in March 2012.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque reasoned that Metro Manila, which generates 60% of the country's gross domestic product (GDP), has long been under GCQ, which allows only 50% of the economy to operate. Under a modified GCQ, only 75% of the economy would be allowed to open, he added.

However, he insisted that there it is still possible towork amid the crisis. "This is our request, you can still work amid the pandemic," he said in Filipino during a virtual briefing. 

READ: On rising hunger, Palace says jobs can resume despite transport shortage

Contrary to Malacañang optimism, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Monday sounded the alarm over what he called a looming hunger crisis, citing the same SWS survey. 

"I am alarmed by the worsening condition of poor Filipino families affected by the pandemic. They are hungry, most of them women and children. This validates our concerns over the lack of [aid] in the proposed P4.5-trillion national budget for 2021," he said.

"We expect the figure to rise in the absence of adequate financial aid to the poor," he added, referring to the record-high hunger incidence figures logged by SWS.

Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, Sen. Risa Hontiveros, and Sen. Francis Pangilinan in separate statements also emphasized the need to take urgent action to address the issue. — Bella Perez-Rubio with a report from Gaea Katreena Cabico

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