The Department of Health on Saturday reported an additional 2,019 positive cases of COVID-19, bringing the total cases to 78,412 in the Philippines.
This coincided with the recommendation by a former adviser to the government’s COVID-19 response task force to upgrade quarantine protocols for the National Capital Region to Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine, a stricter lockdown status than General Community Quarantine, to stop the spread of the deadly coronavirus.
READ: NCR may revert to MECQ
Public health expert Dr. Tony Leachon said: “An MECQ would be the best. That’s how I see it. The cases are increasing, we have to arrest the viral transmission so that it would not result in a widespread epidemic and spread to other areas.”
READ: NCR lockdown eyed anew
More than half of the total new cases recorded Saturday came from Metro Manila.
DOH said this marked the 11th consecutive day where over 1,300 new infections were reported and the fourth time in the past week where new cases breached 2,000.
The five provinces or cities with the highest number of new cases were the National Capital Region with 1,115, Cebu with 479, Cavite with 90, Rizal with 52, Davao del Sur with 41.
There are also 50,763 active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine. Of this, 89.89 percent are mild, 9.18 percent are asymptomatic, 0.50 percent are severe, and 0.43 percent are in critical condition.
The DOH also reported an additional 20 fatalities, bringing the death toll to 1,897.
Of the 20 deaths, 13 (65 percent) in July, 4 (20 percent) in June, 2 (10 percent) in April and 1 (5 percent) in March. Deaths were from Region 7 (10 or 50 percent), NCR (6 or 30 percent),Region 4A (2 or 10 percent),Region 3 (1 or 5 percent) and Region 9 (1 or 5 percent).
DOH likewise announced 1,278 recoveries. This brings the total number of recoveries to 25,752.
A total 51 duplicates were removed from the total case count. Of these, 25 recovered cases and two deaths have been removed after final validation.
Moreover, the DOH said they had updated the health status of three cases previously reported as recovered but after final validation were found to be deaths.
Experts from the University of the Philippines projected that the number of COVID-19 cases in the country might reach more than 85,000 by the end of July.
Should this happen, presidential spokesman Harry Roque said Metro Manila might be placed under MECQ.
Meanwhile, Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar said at least 13 employees at the PCOO’s main office in Manila tested positive for COVID-19. He said he himself tested negative.
Nevertheless, he said, the agency’s coverage plan for President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA) on Monday, July 27, would push through.
“Although this instance is an evident impediment for the PCOO and RTVM (Radio Television-Malacanang), we will continue to carry on in fulfilling our mandate to the Filipino people as we continue to ensure our personnel’s safety towards beating COVID-19 and healing as one nation,” Andanar said in a statement.
“We would like to assure the family of those who have been infected by COVID-19, as well as the general public, that the PCOO is doing all the health and medical protocols prescribed by the government, especially the intensified contact tracing and testing, as part of our due diligence to prevent further transmissions among those who have been in contact with them,” he added.
Andanar said the government was also fulfilling its duty to extend any assistance and support it could provide to affected PCOO personnel and their families.
“As office disinfection will continue to be carried out at the New Executive Building (NEB), we are extending the physical work suspension until further notice in order to ensure our personnel’s safety against the virus,” he said.
“Rest assured that the delivery of essential and timely information to the Filipino public will remain unhampered and unchanged as we have adopted a work-from-home arrangement. All programs and briefings done at NEB will be undertaken remotely and/or virtually,” he added.
READ: ’No to home quarantine’
The PCOO suspended work this week to give way for proper disinfection of the New Executive Building inside Malacañang Complex and contact tracing as well as swab testing among frontline personnel.
Aside from the PCOO main office, the NEB also houses the Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, the press briefing room, the Office of the Chief Presidential Legal Counsel and the Presidential Legislative Liaison Office.
At the same time, the Bureau of Immigration announced Saturday that operations at its main office in Intramuros, Manila would be suspended on July 27 and 28 to make way for disinfection and sanitation.
“All subport offices, with minimal skeletal deployment essential to effectively and efficiently carry out their respective offices’ daily operations, may accommodate your urgent transactions,” the bureau said.
Normal operations will resume on July 29.
When asked if the two-day suspension of operations at the main office was prompted by newly confirmed cases of the coronavirus disease in the bureau, BI acting spokesperson Melvin Mabulac said in a Viber message, “I’m waiting for the report of (the) BI medical section.”
On the other hand, the bureau said they might be contacted at the following for any immigration query:
Hotline numbers (63)(2) 8465-2400, (Trunkline) (63)(2) 8524-3769; email: firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, immigPH@gmail.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org; or their social media accounts – Facebook: officialbureauofimmigration, immigration.helpline.ph, and Twitter: immigrationPH.
Last month, the BI suspended operations at the Manila office for disinfection after one of its employees tested positive for COVID-19.
READ: No eased restrictions in NCR
READ: Localized lockdown eyed