4,650 new cases, 3,092 from NCR

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    NEARLY 5,000 new cases of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) were reported by the Department of Health, 3,092 of them coming from the National Capital Region, as the general community quarantine took effect yesterday.

    In its latest bulletin, the DOH said the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country rose to 173,774, counting the 4,650 new infections that included 249 from Cavite, 194 from Laguna, 189 from Rizal and 136 from Bulacan.

    Metro Manila also had 52 new deaths out of the 111 reported yesterday, raising the total number of fatalities to 2,795.

    Other deaths were reported from Central Visayas (29), Calabarzon (11), Central Luzon (6), Zamboanga Peninsula (4), Repatriates (4), Western Visayas (2), Bicol Region (1), Davao Region (1), and BARMM (1).

    There were 716 new recoveries, meaning the number of survivors has risen to 113,481.

    Globally, as of August 18, there were 21,756,357 confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 771,635 deaths, according to the World Health Organization.

    The number of overseas Filipinos infected with COVID-19 continued to rise as 26 more were added to the list yesterday while seven more succumbed to the virus.

    The number of overseas Filipinos with the virus now stands at 9,959 in 72 countries while the death toll has reached 733.

    The 26 cases came from Asia and the Pacific, Europe and the Middle East while the seven fatalities were all recorded in the Middle East. The seven new deaths came after two consecutive days that no fatality was reported to the DFA by its embassies and consulates.

    The DFA said eight more recovered, bringing the total recoveries so far to 5, 868.

    Majority of the cases and deaths among overseas Filipinos took place in the Middle East and African regions with 6,918 and 452, respectively, while Europe was a distant second in terms of cases with 1,156 and 1,094 in the Asia-Pacific region.

    In an online press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the DOH has been reporting “real time” cases in recent days, adding the public can forget about “late cases.”

    “So now, our data is already real-time. Whenever it is submitted to us, we are able to validate it within 24 hours,” said Vergeire. “We are doing it real time. We can validate within 24 hours as soon as we get the information.”

    She said the DOH has eliminated validation backlogs due to the creation of its Data Management Unit.

    Vergeire also said the use of pool testing would come in handy in the agency’s fight against the deadly virus.

    The pool testing method involves a batch of people that will be tested. If one individual tests positive, all the samples will be tested individually.

    If the entire batch tests negative, they will no longer be tested individually.

    Vergeire said they are still finalizing the evaluation of pool testing in five hospitals before it is approved.

    “It will be huge benefit if we can use pool testing in the country, especially now that we have expanded our testing protocols and are including our frontliners, our workers,” said Vergeire.

    “We are still finalizing the evaluation of this pool testing because it has to go through the evaluation of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and Philippine Society of Pathologist before we can say that it is acceptable and it is workable in our setting,” said Vergeire. – With Ashzel Hachero