Too early to say if COVID-19 cases in PH have peaked – DOH

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 6) — The Department of Health still needs more time for operations of new COVID-19 testing laboratories to stabilize before it can assess if the number of cases in the country has peaked.

DOH Spokesperson and Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Monday that the agency still needs to wait for additional data from testing centers to establish the trend of local coronavirus infections.

"'Yung increase ng numbers is because of the extension of the capacity, pero inaantay pa natin kung mag-stabilize po at maging appropriate na talaga ang numero ng testing centers at testing kits [The increasing numbers is because of the extended capacity for tersing, but we need to wait for the operations to stabilize and for the appropriate number of testing centers and kits]," Vergeire said during the government's Laging Handa briefing.

Apart from the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine, seven other hospitals and laboratories have been accredited to process swab samples for COVID-19 testing.

READ: 30 more laboratories want to give COVID-19 tests, DOH says

"Hindi pa po natin pwedeng i-interpret na bumababa na o tumataas (ang mga kaso). Kailangan lang nating maghintay ng kaunti pang panahon upang makita natin... Kapag stable na ang ating laboratory capacity, we can already see the true picture of the rise in cases or decrease in the number of cases," the DOH official added.

[Translation: We can't interpret yet if the numbers are declining or rising. We need to a wait a little more to see that... Once the laboratory capacity is stable, we can already see the true picture of the rise in cases or decrease in the number of cases.]

Vergeire added that 22,958 tests have been conducted as of Sunday night, with nearly 17 percent or 3,414 samples testing positive for the disease. The DOH later clarified that the figure may contain repeat tests for patients.

There are 3,246 reported COVID-19 cases in the Philippines as of Sunday afternoon, with 144 deaths and 57 recoveries.

Vergeire said latest figures are insufficient to confirm if the number of cases in the country are already on a decline come the fourth week of enhanced community quarantine in Luzon — where the most number of cases have been recorded. Other provinces and cities outside Luzon have since also imposed quarantine measures.

Meanwhile, Vergeire said the team of Chinese doctors who arrived to share technical knowledge in battling COVID-19 would be visiting several government facilities this week. She said the group will be checking the Lung Center of the Philippines, the Philippine General Hospital, the San Lazaro Hospital in Manila, and RITM.

In the same briefing, Senator Richard Gordon proposed to set up remote testing centers and dialysis centers through the Philippine Red Cross to cater to more patients, especially those located far from the accredited laboratories.