The Department of Health (DOH) has revealed on Sunday that the number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases has increased by 29 new cases, bringing to 140 the total number of confirmed cases and 11 deaths.
The DOH, in a statement, clarified, “that, to date, there have been a total of two recovered cases of COVID-19 (PH1 and PH3).”
Records from the DOH identified PH1 and PH3 as the two Chinese nationals who were sent home to China after they recovered from treatment in the Philippines.
“On the other hand, five confirmed COVID-19 cases with mild symptoms are under home quarantine based on the existing decision tool for the diagnosis and management of COVID-19,” the DOH also said in the statement.
Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III, in an interview over DZMM, believed that the numbers might still increase.
“It will still increase. So we are doing what were approved by President Rodrigo Duterte, the proposal by the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) for containment because we are bracing for further surge,” said Duque.
“While we do not like it, that’s what is happening not only in the Philippines, but in the whole world,” said Duque.
As of March 14, the Health Secretary also said 153 were admitted, 697 discharged , 111 confirmed, 638 tested negative and 72 pending test results.
Duque also attributed the increase to the contact tracing being done by the DOH on a COVID-19 patient’s “closed contacts” like house companions, co-workers and those who gave hospital care.
Duque said the mode of transmission remains respiratory droplets which do not mix with the air, as he denied that this could cause airborne transmission.
The new cases of patients who died were the following: American male, 86 years old, from Marikina City with travel history from USA and Korea; Filipino male, 40, from Pasig City with no history of travel abroad, Filipino male, 64, from Negros Oriental.
The man from Negros Oriental, referred by the DOH as PH39 was the councilor of Tayasan of said province.
In a Facebook post, the Negros Oriental information office Bimbo Miraflor said the councilor passed away at 11:09 a.m. while confined at a hospital in Dumaguete City.
The councilor had a liver transplant in 2010 before he was diagnosed with COVID-19. He died 11:09 a.m. of March 15.
He had attended the Philippine Councilors’ League national convention in Manila last month and had gone around Greenhills, a shopping center in San Juan City, Metro Manila, where two victims were also tested positive for COVID-19.
Last March 6, the councilor was brought to Ace Dumaguete Doctors Hospital but his family insisted he be transferred to the intensive care unit (ICU) of the Silliman University Medical Center four days later when his condition deteriorated.
Duque said the small number of recovery is due to the long recovery period– 2 to 3 weeks for mild to moderate cases, and 3 to 6 weeks for critical COVID-19 cases.
Explaining the high 7 percent mortality rate, Duque said this is due to limitation in testing.
“But if we conduct many (medical) testing, maybe many could turn positive, the fatality rate would decrease. He said the mortality rate is commuted as the number of deaths over the number of infections,” said Duque, who raised the possibility that they could likely be missing other positive cases.
At the same time, Duque branded “fake news” reports that patients admitted at the University of Santo Tomas (UST) Hospital in Manila have tested positive for COVID-19.
The report, which was initially released by “The Varsitarian”, UST’s official student publication, quoted UST Hospital Medical Director Dr. Marcellus Francis Ramirez regarding the alleged incident.
Also, Ramirez was quoted in the report saying that the trainees and staff who were exposed to the patients were sent home to undergo self-quarantine.
However, the telephone line of Ramirez went dead after sought for confirmation. It was later learned in the report that the COVID-19 patients are an elderly and a doctor of the said hospital.
Another doctor was tested positive for COVID-19 and under “guarded condition” at the Philippine Heart Center.
Duque also admitted there were doctors, nurses and other health personnel who were being monitored for the virus./Stacy Ang