(UPDATED) After failing to issue its case bulletin as scheduled Sunday, July 12, 2020, due to data harmonization efforts, the Department of Health (DOH) reported sharp increases in recoveries and deaths from coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) on Monday, July 13, 2020.
DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, in a virtual press conference Monday, said they validated a total of 162 deaths, raising the death toll to 1,534, and 2,009 recoveries, which caused the total number of recovered patients to jump to 16,046 as of Sunday.
Vergeire stressed that the 162 deaths did not occur only on Sunday. Fifty-one (31 percent) occurred in July, 90 (56 percent) in June, 20 in May, and one in April.
Of the 51 deaths in July, 18 occurred in the past week while 33 happened in the first week.
"We want to assure the public: your local government units, with the support of the national government, are responding on the ground already based on LGUs' data on hand," she said.
The total case count is 56,259, including the 2,124 additional cases that were confirmed Sunday. Of the total, 38,679 are active cases.
The numbers are expected to continue increasing as data harmonization efforts continue, but Vergeire stressed that mortalities are on a downtrend as shown by the graphs they plotted based on the date of death since March.
The DOH released its July 12, 2020 case bulletin at 8:30 a.m. Monday, after failing to issue it at the usual 4 p.m. schedule or 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. late release for the first time in four months.
Vergeire said they reconciled the data coming from the local government units (LGUs), testing laboratories and hospitals to ensure that all cases, recoveries and deaths are included in the report.
The agency also revised for the second time its case bulletin. The first report under the new format was issued Monday.
Vergeire cited three components of their data harmonization efforts: training of 3,714 Covid-Kaya users as of July 7; deployment of Covid-19 document repository system (CDRS) which collects data by scanning case investigation forms and list of patients; and updating by LGUs of their active cases.
These three measures will provide a more accurate picture of cases, recoveries and deaths from Covid-19, Vergeire said.
For the July 12 case bulletin, 87 duplicates were removed from the total case count.
Of the 2,124 additional cases validated on Sunday, 1,690 are fresh cases (with test results released in the last three days) while 434 are late cases (test results released at least four days ago but validated only on Sunday).
The National Capital Region (NCR) had the highest number of new cases at 459, followed by Cebu with 273, Laguna with 71, Cavite with 35 and Rizal with 28.
The number of active cases on July 12, 38,679, are lower than the 38,813 active cases on July 11 because DOH has validated some cases as either death or recovery.
Of the 38,679 active cases on July 12, 92.2 percent are mild, 7.1 percent are asymptomatic, 0.4 percent are severe and 0.3 percent are in critical condition.
Among the 162 deaths, 99 (61 percent) were from Central Visayas region, 37 (33 percent) were from the National Capital Region, and the rest from other regions.
Most of the deaths in Central Visayas occurred in June and first week of July.
Majority of the cases in Central Visayas are in Cebu City, which was placed under the more relaxed general community quarantine (GCQ) on June 1 to 15, but had to be reverted to enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) on July 16 because of the rising cases.
Although mortalities are on a downtrend, Vergeire said "one too many deaths" remains a cause for concern.
She again appealed to the public to comply with social distancing and minimum health standards such as frequent washing of hands and proper cough etiquette.
"Let's prevent our death curve from rising up to the numbers in March. Let us make sure that by doing our part in minimum health standards, we don't go back to March," Vergeire said.
The Philippines has a case fatality rate of 2.7 percent, lower than the global 4.5 percent, but a higher positivity rate of 7.8 percent compared to the global rate of less than 5.0 percent.
Transmission is faster globally with a reproduction number of two to three, which means that a person can infect two to three others. In the Philippines, the reproduction number is 1.23, which means that a person can infect one to two others.
As of July 11, DOH said a total of 908,779 individual tests for Sars-CoV-2 have been conducted. Sars-CoV-2 is the coronavirus that causes Covid-19.
There are 63 licensed RT-PCR (reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction) laboratories and 22 licensed GeneXpert laboratories nationwide.
Vergeire said their data management system has significantly improved, reports from the field are more timely and delays in reporting are getting shorter. (Marites Villamor-Ilano/SunStar Philippines)