Philippines now COVID-19 hotspot in Southeast Asia

SWAB TEST. Several government workers wait for their turn to undergo swab testing for the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) at the Mall of Asia Arena in Pasay City on Thursday, August 6. Those subjected to the test included personnel from the  Bureau of the Fire Protection, Philippine National Police, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, Presidential Communications Operations Office-News and Information Bureau, and the Philippine News Agency.
| PNA photo by Avito C. Dalan

WITH a total of 119,460 cases of the novel coronavirus, the Philippines surpassed Indonesia’s 118,753 and became the country with the highest number of infections among member nations of the Association of Southeast Nations (ASEAN).

The Philippine Department of Health (DOH) on Thursday, August 6, recorded 3,561 additional COVID-19 cases, with the majority of them coming from the National Capital Region.

The health agency also logged 28 new fatalities and 569 recoveries, bringing the death toll to 2,150, and the number of recovered patients to 66,837.

The latest figures bring the country’s active cases to 50,473, which is also the highest tally of active cases among ASEAN countries.

The coronavirus cases in the region reached 300, 901 on Wednesday, August 5.
Since late July, the Philippines has been reporting record-high numbers of COVID-19 cases. On Tuesday, August 4, the country logged 6,352 additional infections.

Philippine testing czar Vince Dizon attributed the rise of virus infections to the country’s ramped up testing efforts.

“Habang tayo ay nagtetest, talagang marami tayong makikitang positibo. Pero mas importante ‘yun kasi kung hindi natin sila mahahanap at hindi natin sila mai-isolate e lalong kakalat at lalong dadami ang magkakasakit (While we’re testing, it’s expected to see the increase in positive cases. But that’s more important because if we don’t trace and isolate them, the virus will spread and more people will get infected),” he said.

The DOH, for its part, echoed the statement, noting that as of Tuesday, a total of 1,643,539 people have been tested for COVID-19.

Indonesia, meanwhile, has tested a total of 908,000 individuals.

President Rodrigo Duterte, in response to the ardent plea from healthcare workers, has relegated 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.

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