Palace points to improved testing capacity as PH emerges as SE Asia’s COVID-19 hotspot 

Residents of Taguig have the option to undergo drive-thru test as shown in a test-run conducted on Wednesday, April 29 by city health officials | file photo by Lyn Rillon

As the Philippines this week became the country in Southeast Asia with the most coronavirus cases, the government said the increased number is due to its ramped-up testing capacity.

On Thursday, August 6, the country surpassed Indonesia’s 118,753 cases after the Department of Health recorded 3,561 additional COVID-19 cases, bringing the national count to 119,460.

According to Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, the country logged more infections than Indonesia because of more tests being conducted. He said that reports claiming the Philippines is now the COVID-19 hotspot in Southeast Asia were “false” and “inconclusive.”

“Dahil mas maigting ang ating pagte-test, hindi po totoo na mas maraming kaso tayo kaysa sa Indonesia (Because we have intensified our testing capacity, it’s not true that we have more cases than Indonesia),” he said on Friday, August 7.

A total of 1,667,831 people have been tested for COVID-19 in the Philippines, while Indonesia has tested a total of 908,000 individuals.

“Hindi lang nalalaman ng mga Indonesian kung sino sino ‘yung mga umiikot na mayroong sakit. At least tayo, alam natin kung sino sila (The Indonesians just don’t know yet who among them are roaming with the virus. At least, for us, we already know),” Roque added.

Roque also claimed that Indonesia has only conducted “one-third of the actual testing” that the Philippines has.

“So ‘yun po ang aking basis for saying na hindi naman talaga totoo at conclusive na mas marami na tayong kaso dito sa Pilipinas compared to Indonesia (So that’s my basis for saying that it is false and inconclusive to say that the Philippines has more cases compared to Indonesia),” he added.

There are a total of 122,754 COVID-19 cases in the country, with 2,168 fatalities and 66,852 recoveries, as of this writing.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in response to the ardent plea from health care workers, has put the country’s capital and its nearby provinces under a modified enhanced community quarantine (MECQ) beginning August 4 until August 18.

“I have heard the call of different groups from the medical community for a two-week enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in Mega Manila. I fully understand why you, health workers, would like to ask for such a timeout. They have been in the frontlines for months and they are exhausted,” he said.

Aside from Metro Manila, the provinces of Laguna, Rizal, Cavite and Bulacan were also placed under MECQ.

Under this quarantine status, a strict home quarantine will be observed in all households. There will be no public transport, domestic flights, and mass gatherings. There will also be limited transporting services for essential goods and services.

Ritchel Mendiola

Ritchel Mendiola is a staff writer and reporter for the Asian Journal. You can reach her at [email protected].

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