COVID-19 cases in PH rise to 217, one more patient recovers

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 19) — The Philippines confirmed 15 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country's total to 217 as of Thursday afternoon.

In its 4:00 p.m. bulletin, the Department of Health also reported that another patient has recovered from the highly contagious disease.

A 48-year-old Filipino man from Cavite province who recently traveled to Japan has been discharged from the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine after testing negative for COVID-19 twice. He is the eighth patient to recover from the viral disease in the country.

Meanwhile, the death toll is still at 17, but the DOH clarified that the 65-year-old Filipino man who died from COVID-19 was from Bulacan province and not Pasig City. "[U]pon further validation it was found that it is a family member of his who lives there," DOH said.

Worldwide, the disease has killed more than 8,800 people, mostly in China, since the outbreak began in Wuhan City in December last year. Over 218,000 people have been infected, according to the Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 global tracker.

The World Health Organization said the most commonly reported symptoms are fever, dry cough and shortness of breath. The WHO said eight in ten, or around 80 percent, of infected patients experience "mild illness" and eventually recover from COVID-19. Some 14 percent experience severe illness while 5 percent were critically ill, the WHO said.

To prevent infection, authorities are urging people to practice regular hand washing, cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who exhibit virus symptoms.