PH gov't: We are 'winning' fight against COVID-19

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 29) – Two officials who are part of the government's task force against COVID-19 said local outbreaks remain under control and the country is "winning" against the pandemic.

"In terms of positivity rate, in terms of case doubling rate, in terms of mortality rate, we are winning. In fact, we defied what was predicted by the UP (University of the Philippines) study. We have limited the cases to 35,000 instead of what could have been at least 3 million cases," Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a press briefing Monday. Positivity rate counts the number of confirmed cases per 100 tests done, while the case doubling rate is the number of days it takes for cases to double, indicating how fast the disease spreads in an area.

Confirmed cases are now at 35,455 as of Sunday afternoon, against the UP team's projection of 40,000 infections by end-June.

Roque was reacting to critics who called out the Duterte administration for its supposed lapses in responding to the coronavirus crisis, even countering the World Health Organization's findings that the Philippines recorded the fastest spread of the disease among 37 Western Pacific countries and areas.

Roque refuted WHO data showing the Philippines with the fastest pick-up in infections in the region, saying that the case tally per country should be computed against total population. He presented statistics that showed the Philippines ranking sixth, with India leading the group, followed by Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, and Singapore.

However, it was pointed out that the WHO's classification of Western Pacific states does not include the first four countries, leaving the Philippines the second-fastest next to Singapore in terms of the spread of the virus if Roque's data is to be followed.

The Department of Health also earlier refuted the WHO's data.

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

Last week, Vice President Leni Robredo also said that the government was in a "state of denial" about how ineffective policies are, adding that authorities should pause and rethink its strategies.

RELATED: Robredo tells Malacañang her office is helping solve lapses in COVID response

"To reiterate, [there is] nothing to be ashamed of in terms of density, we are not number one in Western Pacific. Pero sa akin, hindi namin ito contest [But for me, this shouldn't be a contest]," Roque said.

National Task Force chief implementer Carlito Galvez, Jr. also noted that authorities are actually "prepared" to respond with its national action plan, adding that protocols are also being reviewed now that only Cebu City remains under the strictest form of lockdown. However, he noted that no province will be moved out of community quarantine to the more liberal "new normal" scheme anytime soon, so that Filipinos would not relax in practicing social distancing and other minimum health

"From acceleration [of infections], lahat nag-decelerate na po... We are winning," Galvez said.

He said there is an average of 622 new cases reported daily, but clarified that this represents a small portion of the daily testing capacity of local laboratories.

"Ang threshold po ng WHO, kapag bumaba po ang ating [positivity rate] sa 7-10 percent, ibig sabihin gumaganda ang ating situation [The WHO's threshold is if we have a positivity rate of below 7-10 percent, it means our situation is improving]," Galvez added, noting lower deaths among patients as doctors have learned how to respond to the disease better over three months since the first local infections were recorded.

Roque earlier said the positivity rate peaked at 13 percent back in April.

He also commended how the response of local government units, saying there are redundancies in place to protect provinces and cities from further spikes in cases.

However, Galvez admitted that authorities are focusing on Cebu City after a "very alarming" spike in infections, severe cases, and patient deaths.

Both Galvez and Roque said that President Rodrigo Duterte will announce the quarantine protocols for the various cities and provinces on Tuesday, June 30, which will be implemented in these locations from July 1-15. Classifications will be determined based on how fast the number of cases double and the capacity of critical care units in medical facilities.

Roque said only Central Visayas is close to its limit, while the rest of the country are either at medium or low-risk.