COVID-19 cases drop in Metro Manila

MANILA, Philippines, June 15 ------ Fewer people are getting infected with coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19 in Metro Manila, but the deadly virus is now spreading faster in Central Visayas. The “COVID-19 Philippine Situationer” issued by the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday showed that from 13 percent, the proportion of COVID-19 cases in Central Visayas went up to 24 percent starting May until June 12. Central Visayas includes the provinces of Bohol, Cebu, Negros Oriental and Siquijor.

The situationer was released as the nation awaits President Duterte’s decision today on whether to further ease COVID quarantine restrictions in Metro Manila and several other areas. “On May 27, 24 percent or 120 of the 503 confirmed COVID cases reported for the day came from Central Visayas,” DOH noted. With a total of 3,999 cases, DOH said Central Visayas holds the second highest reported number of COVID-19 infections in the country.

The health agency said the National Capital Region (NCR) accounted for the biggest number of cases among all regions, although its proportion has significantly decreased in the past weeks. From January to May, the NCR accounted for 63 percent of cases nationwide. The figure dropped sharply to 36 percent from May 20 to June 12. DOH said Mimaropa – comprising the provinces of Mindoro, Marinduque, Romblon and Palawan – has the third highest with 1,943 confirmed COVID-19 cases. The proportion of COVID-19 cases in Mimaropa has also dropped, from 11 percent to three percent.

Fresh and late reports

The DOH said 539 additional cases brought to 25,930 the total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases nationwide. Of the additional cases, 366 are fresh and 173 are late. Metro Manila accounted for 153 of the fresh cases and Central Visayas recorded 110. Of the late cases, 142 came from Metro Manila and only five from Central Visayas.

The DOH said the number of recoveries had reached 5,954, including 248 patients who had just recovered from the virus. COVID-related deaths rose to 1,088 with the inclusion of 14 more fatalities.

Fatality rate dropping

Despite the spikes in number of deaths due to the infection in the past two days, DOH yesterday reported a continuing decline in the country’s COVID-19 fatality rate. “From April to May, the percentage of death in the country due to COVID has gone down from 5.52 percent to 4.24 percent as of June 13,” Health Undersecretary Maria Vergeire said in a virtual public briefing.

Vergeire further noted that the Philippines’ COVID-19 case fatality ratio is also lower than the global average of 5.6 percent and compared to other countries in Asia. Epidemiologist and Interagency Task Force (IATF) technical working group member John Wong said there was a spike in the number of COVID-related deaths in the past two days. However, Wong said the increase does not necessarily indicate more COVID-19 patients are dying.

“The recent increase has been due to late reports as the median deaths remain at nine per day,” Wong noted. According to Wong, the COVID-19 case fatality ratio in the country has been declining since April until the past two-day spikes of 22 and 16 cases. “These episodes are actually late cases. The 22 deaths did not happen yesterday, (most) occurred in the past several months,” Wong pointed out. Of the 22 deaths, only four occurred in June while the rest happened in past months.

Wong said there has been delay in the reporting of deaths, though it has improved from a high 32 days to seven days delay in the actual date of death to reporting. He attributed the delay in reporting to the long process of gathering data from local government units (LGUs). “The actual death has to be reported to the LGUs then to regional offices before the DOH. The data has to be validated if the death was really due to COVID, and that is causing the delay,” Vergeire explained.