58 more COVID deaths raise PH tally to 1,831

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    MORE than 2,200 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases were reported yesterday by the Department of Health (DOH) and 58 more deaths that raised the number of fatalities in the country to 1,831.

    In its latest bulletin, the DOH said 2,241 new cases brought the total number of COVID-19 cases in the country to 67,456, counting the 1,841 reported on Friday and 2,357 on Saturday.

    Of the new cases reported, majority (1,652) came from the National Capital Region while 115 came from Laguna, 76 from Cavite, 75 from Rizal and 55 from Cebu.

    Of the newly-reported deaths, the DOH said majority are from Central Visayas with 54, while NCR accounted for just 1. The DOH also noted that 25 of the new deaths happened in July while 33 died last June.

    Last Friday, 17 more deaths and 311 new recoveries were reported while 113 deaths and 321 recoveries were reported last Saturday.

    The DOH said there were 398 new recoveries, meaning the number of patients who have recovered from the deadly virus now stands at 22,465.

    In a bit of good news, the Department of Foreign Affairs said no new COVID case or fatality was reported among overseas Filipinos, describing this as a “peaceful Sunday.”

    The DFA, however, cautioned this could be due to late reports from embassies and consulates worldwide, particularly in the Middle East where governments are very strict in releasing data.

    As of Saturday, the DFA said 9,000 Filipinos in 65 countries have been infected with COVID-19, with 634 having died and 5,321 having recovered.

    The Middle East/Africa remained as the region with the highest cases and fatalities among Filipinos at 6,483 cases and 364 deaths, respectively, though majority of them are in the Middle East where more than two million Filipinos are living and working.

    Europe registered 1,070 cases and 95 deaths while the Americas reported 698 cases and 169 deaths. The Asia-Pacific region reported 771 cases and six deaths, according to the DFA.

    PALACE EXPLAINS SPIKE

    Malacanang said the continued increase in the number of COVID-19 cases in the country is a result of aggressive testing being done by the government to determine those infected and eventually to isolate them and control the spread of the pandemic in the country.

    Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said it is unfortunate that some quarters had failed to recognize the results of the actions taken by the government and focused instead on the number of cases that are being reported.

    “While it is true that cases are still increasing, this is foremost attributed to our aggressive testing that we now have. The sad reality is that the virus is not going away easily until we develop a vaccine or find a cure,” he said.

    He added that while there is an increase in cases, there is also a “tremendous increase in the number of recoveries and a sharp decline in the number of deaths.”

    The Department of Health (DOH) reported that 1,058,764 tests had been done as of July 18.

    As of July 19, 67,456 cases had been recorded by the DOH, including 22,465 recoveries.

    Two crew members of the newly-commissioned BRP Jose Rizal, the Navy’s first missile-capable warship, have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a Navy official.

    The two were among Navy personnel who underwent swab tests after a Navy junior officer, who attended the ship’s commissioning on July 10 in Subic, Zambales, learned he was COVID-19 positive on July 11.

    Navy public affairs office chief Lt. Cdr. Maria Christina Roxas said the two Navy personnel “were already evacuated to a quarantine facility ashore for further treatment.”

    Roxas also said that Navy chief Vice Adm. Giovanni Carlo Bacordo, who was among the top military and defense officials who attended the commissioning ceremony, tested negative for the deadly virus.

    Other top Navy officials who also attended the ceremony who have tested negative are Navy Vice Commander Rear Adm. Rey Dela Cruz, Philippine Fleet Commander Rear Adm. Loumer Bernabe and Offshore Combat Force commander Commo. Karl Decapia.

    DND Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and AFP chief Gen. Felimon Santos Jr., who were also present in the ceremony, announced last week that they were negative of the virus.

    Lorenzana and Santos were exposed to Lorenzana’s Senior Military Assistant, Col. Rolly Nerona, who found out he was COVID-19 positive on July 13.

    BRP Jose Rizal is preparing to depart on July 29 to attend the Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world’s largest maritime exercise. The US-hosted multi-lateral exercise is due to be held in Hawaii from August 17 to 31.

    Roxas said other Navy personnel who will compose the RIMPAC contingent, aside from the ship’s crew, were scheduled to undergo testing at the Philippine Area in Sta Maria, Bulacan.

    In a related development, the DOH said the country’s reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT- PCR) test kits are ready for commercial use.

    In a public advisory, the DOH said the GenAmplify (Version 2) is now available for public use.

    “We are proud of our homegrown scientists, who continue to use their talent to benefit not only the Filipino people but the rest of humanity as well,” the DOH said.

    “After several months of collaboration, we are proud to say GenAmplify version 2, the country’s very own RT-PCR test kit, is finally ready for commercial use,” it added.

    This latest development comes after the DOH earlier noted that “minor deficiencies” have been found in the initial version of GenAmplify.

    The DOH said it appreciates the efforts of the Manila Health Tek team as they worked closely with an independent laboratory expert panel in addressing key issues of version 1 of GenAmplify. – With Ashzel Hachero, Jocelyn Montemayor and Victor Reyes