'Look through an optimistic lens': A million COVID cases means a million more recoveries, says Duque

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, April 27) — A million COVID-19 cases in the country would also mean a million recoveries from the disease as long as we look through a "more optimistic lens, " Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Tuesday in remarks that immediately drew criticisms from netizens.

"The one million cases can be viewed also from a different angle, that this will sooner or later bring in a million recoveries," Duque told CNN Philippines' The Source.

"We need to look at it from a more optimistic lens of getting a high recovery rate of more than 90%," Duque added.

The Philippines' COVID-19 tally surpassed one million on Monday after 8,929 more people got infected. The fatality count is now at 16,853, equivalent to 1.67% of those who died from COVID-19.

A total of 11,333 more recoveries were recorded, bringing the total number of survivors to 914,952, which makes up 90.9% of the case count.

"Looking at it from another angle, that's one million people who should've been living healthily (some even should be alive)," netizen @jan_michael_yap tweeted in response to Duque's remarks.

Netizen @sosyolohija also tweeted — "Duque's logic: Let's have more #COVID cases so we can declare more recoveries! Never mind the number of deaths? Never mind the millions of jobs lost? Never mind the continuing collective trauma from incompetent and corrupt handling of the pandemic?"

Duque admitted that there are still a lot of ways to improve the government's handling of the pandemic response, especially when it comes to ramping up the country's health system capacity.

"We need to focus as a nation how we can further improve our pandemic response, there are always ways to do things better. I’m not saying we are successful. There are opportunities which we grab each time to do things better," he said.

"What’s important now is we continue to see that in the active cases of 74,000, 96% are mild or asymptomatic and severe to critical is at 1%," Duque said.

The Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases will meet within the day to discuss the latest quarantine status of Metro Manila and neighboring provinces.

Duque said they will have to look into the latest data on ICU utilization rates and the effects of the government's "prevent, detect, isolate, treat, and reintegrate" strategy in its national action plan as main drivers of the decision of the task force.

President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce the new quarantine classification for the month of May on Wednesday, April 28, during his weekly public address.