“We find it unfortunate that some quarters cannot seem to see the forest for the trees when they cite the cumulative number of cases and blatantly ignore the rest of the COVID-19 data,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement on July 19.
Roque, who returned to his post a month into the lockdown implemented in Metro Manila and the rest of Luzon, defended the government’s COVID-19 response despite the continued rise in cases.
“The community quarantine that the Administration imposed has helped us improve our health system capacity, and in turn, save thousands of lives at a huge cost to our economy. We earlier took the bitter pill of choosing health above economic activities,” said Roque, citing that the University of the Philippines (UP) earlier predicted three million cases if government did not act decisively.
As of July 19, there are 67,456 confirmed COVID-19 cases reported by the Department of Health (DOH), while there are 92,380 individuals who have already tested positive.
The DOH noted in its Situation Reports that the discrepancy between confirmed cases and positive individuals does not necessarily reflect backlogs in case validation—whereas before, the difference between the two has been considered validation backlogs of the agency.
Roque received flak for his ecstatic declaration of “beating” the UP prediction of 40,000 cases by end of June. The confirmed cases DOH reported then were 37,514, but those who have tested positive reached 46,355, a difference of 8,841.
The discrepancy between confirmed cases has also become bigger, now at 24,924 by July 19.
UP Octa Research group then predicted 60,000 cases by end of July, but the 60,000-mark was breached on July 16 or half a month ahead of prediction. The group now predicted 85,000 cases by end of July.
“While it is true that cases are still increasing, this is foremost attributed to our aggressive testing that we now have,” said Roque.
The government, however, is still way below its June target of 50,000 actual tests done per day, while DOH said that they have reached 50,000 tests but only as ‘rated capacity’ a week before June ended. The government fails to meet even its May 31 testing target of 30,000 per day.
The average tests done in the last 20 days (from June 30 to July 19) is only at 22,521, while total tested individuals average is at 21,317.
Actual tests done from June 30 to July 19
“It is worth mentioning that there is a tremendous increase in the number of recoveries and a sharp decline in the number of deaths,” Roque said.
Those who recovered from COVID-19 have reached 22,465 as of July 19.
In its reporting, the DOH decided to highlight active cases more than the total confirmed cases.
As of July 19, active cases are at 43,160, representing 64% of total cases and almost twice as many as the recovered cases.
Those who died from COVID-19 are at 1,831 by July 19. The reported number of deaths does not include suspected cases who died but were not tested.
National Task Force COVID-19 Chief Implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. said on July 5 that there were 3,500 who died but were not tested, during a time that there were only 1,297 confirmed COVID-19 deaths.
The total COVID-19 cases among health workers have now reached 3,938 as of July 18. Additional cases reported in the last week number to 295. The total cases among health workers makes up 6% of all COVID-19 cases in the country, making one of every 16 cases a health care frontliner. The active cases are 712 or 18% of all those who got infected.
Health care workers who recovered have reached 3,191, with 441 of these reported in the last week. Deaths now at 35, with one new death reported in the last week.