CASES of coronavirus infection continue to rise a week before the end of the extended enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) in high-risk areas.
As of 4 p.m. Friday, May 8, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 120 additional patients who have contracted the novel coronavirus, or Sars-CoV-2, which causes the coronavirus disease (Covid-19).
Their brought the total infections in the country to 10,463.
Eleven additional mortalities were also recorded, bringing the death toll to 696, while 116 patients have recovered. The total number of recoveries is now at 1,734.
Officials said they were keeping a close eye on the increasing number of cases in Cebu.
Edsel Salvana, head of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) Technical Advisory Group, said they have noticed a clustering of Covid-19 cases in Cebu.
"We are also seeing outbreaks in Cebu. What has been causing recent increase in the number of cases are those in Cebu," said Salvana.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire cited the improving testing capacity in the province as among the reasons for the increase in cases.
"The testing capacity of Cebu has increased tremendously. When testing started at the Vicente Sotto Medical Center, its capacity was just 90 tests per day. Now, they are doing an average of 550 to 600 tests per day. So they have already increased their capacity," said Vergeire.
Clustering of cases has been observed in Cebu jails.
"The big chunks of cases come from closed institutions, like the jails in Cebu, where there are clustering if cases, not in the communities," said Vergeire.
Three cities in Metro Cebu - Cebu City, Mandaue City and Lapu-Lapu City - have started implementing a mass rapid antibody test program.
A rapid antibody test, which is done using the blood sample of a subject, does not detect the novel coronavirus.
Rather, it detects antibodies, or proteins that humans produce to fight off an infection.
If a rapid antibody test yields a positive result, it simply means that an individual is suffering from or had suffered from an infection. But the infection is not necessarily the Covid-19, a respiratory disease that could be fatal in its severe form.
Those found positive in a rapid antibody test will be subjected to the RT-PCR test, or reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction test, which would detect the novel coronavirus from a nasopharyngeal swab.
The mass rapid antibody test, an initiative of the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas together with the three city governments, targets one out of 10 households in a barangay.
The novel coronavirus has infected more than 3.67 million people in 215 countries and has killed 254,199 as of May 7, according to the World Health Organization.
In the Western Pacific Region, the Philippines ranks fifth among countries with Covid-19 after China, Singapore, Japan, and South Korea. (Jove T. Moya with HDT/SunStar Philippines)