PH records over 3,000 new COVID-19 cases, climbs to top of Southeast Asia list

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The Philippines confirms 3,561 new cases of the coronavirus disease, as its tally inches closer to 120,000, outpacing other nations in Southeast Asia. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 6) — Despite strict lockdown restrictions that stretched for months and shuttered the economy, the Philippines has outpaced other nations in Southeast Asia in terms of coronavirus cases.

With 3,561 new infections reported by the Department of Health on Thursday, the country’s total case count surged to 119,460, overtaking Indonesia which has 118,753 COVID-19 cases, according to CNN Indonesia.

The neighboring country has registered around 1,500 to 2,000 single-day new cases over the past week.

Meanwhile, the daily new cases logged nationwide by the DOH have not been lower than 3,000 in the last seven days, with the Philippines breaking its record for single-day rise in infections five times over that period. The highest surge was recorded on Tuesday, August 4, when 6,352 patients were added to the nationwide tally.

According to the DOH, 2,023 of the new infections announced on Thursday are “fresh” or were detected in the last three days, while the other 1,538 were part of the validation backlog.

In its case report, it further detailed that 2,041 new cases are from Metro Manila, where tougher restrictions have been reimposed amid an upsurge in COVID-19 numbers.

Laguna recorded 222 new infected residents, while Cebu had 221, Cavite had 100 and Rizal had 81.

Twenty-eight more lives have also been lost to the disease, the DOH said, as the death toll reached 2,150. This is around half of Indonesia’s count, which has climbed past 5,000.

Of the 28 newly reported deaths, 10 occurred in August, 16 in July, and the remaining two in May and June.

Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 survivors rose to 66,837, with 569 more people tagged by the DOH as recovered.

The latest figures bring the active cases or currently ill patients in the country to 50,473. This is also the highest number among 11 Southeast Asian states (including East Timor).

In a media briefing Thursday morning, the country’s testing czar Vince Dizon briefly responded to international news reports which said the Philippines may likely become “the COVID-19 hotspot” in Southeast Asia by calling the statement “speculative.” 

He also said the improved testing efforts led to the rise in cases in recent weeks.

"Ang ibang bansa tulad ng Indonesia, ang kanilang testing ay kalahati lang ng ginagawa nating testing ngayon,” Dizon said.

“Habang tayo ay nagte-test, talagang mas marami tayong makikitang positibo pero mas importante 'yun kasi kung hindi natin sila mahahanap at hindi ma-isolate ay lalong kakalat at dadami ang magkakasakit," he continued.

[Translation: Other countries, like Indonesia, are only conducting half as many tests as we are doing. It's expected that cases will rise as we continue to test more people. What's important is that we can trace, test, and isolate them so we can stop the transmission.]

The Department of Health similarly attributed the surge in numbers to better testing capacity, as well as community transmission in a number of areas nationwide.

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Among Filipino nationals abroad, the Department of Foreign Affairs said 65 more caught COVID-19, bringing the tally to 9,692. The agency also listed a total of 5,737 recoveries and 702 deaths.

Globally, the outbreak has resulted in the death of over 707,000 out of some 18.8 million infected people, based on the Johns Hopkins University tracker.