242 more deaths, toll breaches 14K

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    TWO hundred forty-two more deaths were reported by the Department of Health yesterday, the third highest one-day tally, as the country’s death toll from the new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) rose to 14,059.

    In its latest bulletin, the DOH said the high number of deaths was a result of the verification efforts they are doing, adding that “133 cases that were previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after final validation.”

    Last Tuesday, the DOH reported 382 deaths, surpassing the previous high of 186 set last September 2.

    The DOH also reported 6,414 new cases, a tally that did not include data from five laboratories. Overall, the number of infections in the country rose to 819,164 while active cases rose to 158,701, with 97.5 percent of them mild cases, 1.2 percent asymptomatic cases, 0.5 percent severe cases, 0.5 percent critical cases, and 0.30 percent moderate cases.

    There were 163 more recoveries, raising the number of survivors to 646,404.

    In its latest report, the OCTA Research Team said the growth rate of COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila has drastically slowed down.

    OCTA noted that Metro Manila reported an average of 5,146 new cases from March 31 to April 6 for a one-week growth rate of 3 percent, much lower than the 19 percent from March 25 to April 1.

    The group also said that from March 31 to April 6, the reproduction rate in Metro Manila went down to 1.43, lower from the previous figure of 1.53 recorded by OCTA on April 6 alone.

    The number of overseas Filipinos who tested positive for the deadly virus continued to climb with 12 more added to the list, the Department of Foreign Affairs said.

    There were five new recoveries, bringing the total number of cases and recoveries to 16,581 and 10,070, respectively.

    The death toll rose to 1,059 after one new death was reported.

    The DFA also said that 399, 696 overseas Filipinos have been repatriated to the country since last year, including 2,225 overseas Filipinos who arrived home last week.

    Of the 399,696, the DFA said 294,294 are land-based workers while 105,402 are seafarers.

    Among those repatriated were undocumented workers, those who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic, victims of trafficking, as well as special medical flights.

    Meanwhile, former president Joseph “Erap” Estrada remained on mechanical ventilation but his condition has “slightly improved,” according to his son, former senator Jinggoy Estrada.

    The younger Estrada said his father is in stable condition, with his vital signs normal, at the intensive care unit of the Cardinal Santos Memorial Medical Center in San Juan City where he was rushed last March 28 after complaining of body weakness.

    The 83-year-old former president later tested positive for COVID-19.

    “He has improved slightly. Today and last night, his condition was stable,” Jinggoy said in a television interview, adding his father has been sedated.

    The former president was put on mechanical ventilation after his pneumonia worsened.

    “His other vital organs are functioning well. We were informed by his physicians that his inflammatory markers are on a downward trend for which we are thankful and hopefully this signals that his immune system is responding well,” Jinggoy said.

    Jinggoy, in the same interview, said his wife, Presentacion, has also tested positive for the deadly virus and is in isolation.

    Jinggoy said he has tested negative for the virus.

    Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, who is playing a key role in the fight against the deadly virus as chairman of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, has tested positive.

    “The result of my RT-PCR test today, 06 April 2021, came up positive,” Lorenzana said in a statement on Tuesday night, adding he is asymptomatic.

    Lorenzana, 72, said he will be on “isolation, following the quarantine guidelines to avoid infecting others.”

    “Those who have been exposed to me have been informed. They have been advised to isolate and get tested for COVID-19 as well,” he said.

    Lorenzana said the DND “shall continue to operate with a skeleton workforce to ensure continuity of service, with the prescribed health protocols strictly enforced.”

    The vice chairman of the NTF Against COVID-19, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año, contracted the virus twice last year and has been on leave since January after being advised by his doctors to “to slow down and take a break from stressful activities.”

    DILG officials said Año may return to work middle this month.

    The Presidential Security Group, which provides close in-security for President Duterte and the First Family, confirmed that several of their members have tested positive for the deadly virus.

    Brig. Gen. Jesus Durante III, PSG commander, in an interview with government network PTV 4, said 126 of their members were recently infected. He said 45 are still active cases.

    Durante said most of those who tested positive are manning the gates and are not part of the close-in security of Duterte.

    Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade said 117 personnel of the Light Rail Transit Line 1 have tested positive for the deadly virus along with 143 from LRT-2, 860 from MRT-3, and 131 from the Philippine National Railways.

    The Department of Education said five personnel of the schools division office in Isabela who recently died of COVID-19 were not infected in schools where they were working.

    DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said that based on their initial investigation and contact tracing, the cases were acquired through community transmission outside the school premises and were not work related.

    She said the agency’s field office has coordinated with local government units for extensive contact tracing and quarantine procedures.

    “The school division office also ordered strict implementation of alternative work arrangements and suspension of all face-to-face activities in schools and offices in critical areas in the province,” Briones added. – With Ashzel Hachero, Victor Reyes, Jocelyn Montemayor, and Noel Talacay