March 10 ------ President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday announced four new cases of novel coronavirus infections in the Philippines, bringing the total number to 24. Duterte said the four new confirmed cases came from San Juan, Project Six in Quezon City and Sta. Maria in Bulacan. "The transmission is going on. Twenty plus four. It's 24," Duterte said. “That’s how bad it is,” he told reporters.
Duterte made the announcement after he convened the officials of the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases, resource persons from different government and private offices, and local government officials. He also announced a consensus on the suspension of classes in a bid to reduce the number of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila. "Classes will be suspended in NCR. National Capital Region lang. Beginning tomorrow [March 10] and it will end on March 14," Duterte said. "In all levels 'to," he added.
The President earlier declared state of public health emergency throughout the Philippines. Duterte said the proclamation would facilitate measures to address the threat of the virus including mandatory reporting, quarantine and disease control prevention measures. The additional four confirmed cases that Duterte announced on Monday night came just hours after the Department of Health said in the afternoon that the number of cases in the country has risen to 20. At a press briefing, Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said cases 11 to 20 were confirmed from samples collected from March 6 to 8 and which were released earlier on Monday.
She added that authorities are now conducting contact tracing. “Rest assured that the Department of Health (DOH) is maximizing all channels... to immediately identify and isolate, if needed, those who had contact with confirmed cases,” Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement. Vergeire attributed the sudden rise in confirmed COVID-19 cases to an improved surveillance system. “‘Yong biglang pagdami ng kaso, ito naman po ay dahil sa maigting na surveillance na ginagawa natin sa ngayon,” Vergeire said. Vergeire said the four COVID-19 cases reported on Sunday night were all in stable condition at various hospitals across Metro Manila.
The DOH Epidemiology Bureau has traced 468 contacts of COVID-19 patients 4 to 10, 113 of whom have been assessed. Of these, 107 have been placed under home quarantine while six have been isolated and classified as persons under investigation for possible COVID-19 infection. Vergeire indicated that the DOH and the local government units had agreed that the DOH would give the media information on where COVID-19 cases are hospitalized. It will be the LGUs that will identify the patients’ areas of residence. “May usapan na po na pagkatapos magdeklara ng DOH, sila naman po ay puwedeng mag-declare ng press conferences nila,” Vergeire said.
The health official said that the DOH’s existing stock of test kits is currently a little above 2,000. The World Health Organization is set to donate an additional 1,000 kits this week.