DOH logs new record-high 5,404 new Covid cases for 2021

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Barangay officer closes a street gate leading to a bridge for a ocalized lockdown in Barangay Baclaran, Paranaque City on Tuesday on Tuesday, March 9, 2021, to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus particularly the UK and South African variants. Rappler.com

The number of daily cases from the coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) reached another record high on Monday with 5,404, according to the Department of Health (DOH).

The DOH recorded 5,000 Covid-19 cases on Saturday and 4,899 on Sunday, fueling fears that new Covid-19 variants are fueling the spikes.

Malacanang even said on Monday that the new variants could be “one of the grounds” for the spike in active virus cases in Metro Manila.

In a virtual press briefing, however, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque rejected speculations that the government’s decision to reopen the economy has led to a surge in daily recorded Covid-19 cases.

Citing data from the Department of Health (DOH), he said authorities even recorded a low single-day rise in Covid-19 cases after the government decided to further reopen the economy in October 2020.

“After we reopened the economy on Oct. 12, there was a decline in cases. And if you see, after Christmas Day, cases continued to decline. Reopening the economy is not the problem,” he said partly in Filipino.

Roque dismissed claims that the national government’s inefficiency is to blame for the spike in daily recorded Covid-19 cases, stressing that the country has a low 2.06-percent case fatality rate.

“Let’s look at data. We were really able to lower cases. It was only this March when cases started to rise. Even if I have repeatedly said that I’m not an expert, I think this confirmation that there are new variants in the country is one of the reasons why there is a surge and not because the government is a failure,” he added.

He also refused to blame the public’s non-compliance with minimum health and safety standards for the spike in daily Covid-19 cases, saying many Filipinos continued to follow quarantine protocols.

The DOH last week said the public’s failure to comply with minimum health standards contributed to the recent increase in Covid-19 cases in the country. SOVEREIGNPH

“I don’t want to say that Filipinos are being negligent because anywhere I go I see that majority of Filipinos are following protocols but to those who don’t follow protocols, there’s a surge so you should start following them now,” Roques, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Monday, said.

Last Saturday, the DOH confirmed a new Covid-19 variant called P.3 has been traced in the country but noted that there’s not enough evidence to say whether it is a cause for concern.

The DOH also confirmed the country’s first case of the P.1 variant first discovered in Brazil from samples of an overseas Filipino worker (OFW) who just returned from Brazil.

Aside from the P.3 and P.1 variants, health authorities also discovered in recent samples more cases of the B.1.1.7 variant first detected in the United Kingdom and additional cases of the B.1.351 variant from South Africa.

No stricter quarantine status this month

Despite a surge in active cases, Roque assured that the government will not revert Metro Manila to a stricter quarantine classification because the country’s healthcare capacity can manage the spike in Covid-19 cases.

“For the month of March, possibly it won’t revert yet because as I reported 55 percent of ICU beds, around 60 percent Covid-19 ward beds, and 60 percent of our isolation facilities are still available,” he said partly in Filipino.

However, Roque said he could not say what would happen next month.

Metro Manila, Apayao, Baguio City, Kalinga, Mountain Province, Batangas, Tacloban City, Iligan City, Davao City, and Lanao del Sur are currently under general community quarantine (GCQ) until the end of the month.

The rest of the country would stay under the least restrictive modified GCQ (MGCQ) until March 31.

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