Don't 'cherry pick' countries to compare with PH, DOH says in response to WHO numbers

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The comparison made with Singapore and other countries requires deeper understanding of population ratio versus number of cases, the Department of Health says about latest data from the World Health Organization. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 28) — The comparison made with Singapore and other countries requires a deeper understanding of population ratio versus number of cases, the Department of Health says about latest data from the World Health Organization.

Health Undersecretary and Spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire said Sunday that while Singapore is able to manage its cases with a lower case fatality rate of 4.4 deaths per 1 million population, the Philippines registers a 11.34 deaths per 1 million population. 

"Our socioeconomic context, particularly living conditions, as well as health system capacity, even prior to COVID, is different from Singapore," Vergeire said in a statement.

"Please take that into account when we do our analysis. Let us not cherry pick the countries we want to compare ourselves to," she added.

The health official's statement was in response to recent reports stating the Philippines now has the fastest rise in COVID-19 cases in the region, which cited WHO data.

The WHO published on Wednesday their COVID-19 situation report for the Western Pacific Region, which showed the Philippines recording the most number of new COVID-19 cases in the region over the previous seven days, followed by Singapore.

The Department of Health said Sunday that the comparison made with Singapore and other countries requires a deeper understanding of population ratio versus number of cases.

"As the national government strives to manage COVID-19 in the absence of a cure or vaccine, all agencies are tasked to closely monitor the rise in cases and strengthen our response through localized actions, especially in emerging hotspots," DOH said in a statement.

"These localized responses entail early detection of cases and tracing of contacts, their immediate isolation or quarantine, and appropriate testing and treatment. We have also addressed the rising critical care utilization through augmentation of equipment and workforce and ensure that we can manage possible surge of cases," it added.

The agency reiterated the need for Filipinos to follow minimum health standards, including wearing of masks and physical distancing, saying it is the most effective preventive measure in the absence of a vaccine.

Meanwhile, several senators reacted to the latest report of the WHO.

Senator Joel Villanueva said the current statistics may be a consequence of actions taken to revive the economy.

"For the past weeks, we lost focus on our primary goal of containing the virus. We reopened the economy drastically, even for the non-essential sectors like POGO," Villanueva said in a statement.

"There was no clear guidance on surveillance and epidemiological monitoring. The current statistics are obviously consequences of these actions," he added.

Senate President Tito Sotto said the numbers are the result of the the delay in actions and responses.

"IATF must address the health protocols and programs being done by the DOH. Something is very wrong," Sotto said.

"That includes contact tracing and aggressive research on medications," he added.

Senator Bong Go said as chair of the Senate committee on health, he continues to push for the improvement of the Test, Trace and Treat strategy.

"Wala pang bakuna at gamot sa sakit na ito [there is no vaccine or medicine for this disease]. That is why strict enforcement of existing measures and proper compliance of everyone are very crucial," Go said in a statement.

Go also said there is a need to immediately pass the Bayanihan to Recover as One bill, in order to revive the economy and provide livelihoods for more Filipinos.

CNN Philippines' correspondent Xianne Arcangel contributed to this report.