COVID-19 cases surge to 202, deaths now at 17


    CASES of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and deaths from the new disease continued to rise as the Department of Health reported 15 more confirmed cases and three fatalities.

    The DOH also reported three more COVID-19 patients have recovered, bringing the total to seven.

    Based on the daily case bulletin issued by the DOH, there are 202 COVID-19 cases and 17 deaths as of noon yesterday.

    “Today, DOH reports 3 additional deaths. This brings the total number of deaths to 17,” the DOH said. First of the new deaths is Patient 201, a 58-year-old Filipino male from Lanao del Sur, with travel history to Malaysia. He expired on March 17 from acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) secondary to COVID-19, and had pre-existing diabetes mellitus. He was admitted to the Amai Pakpak Medical Center on March 10 and was confirmed positive for COVID-19 on March 18.

    The second fatality is Patient 57, who is a 65-year-old Filipino male from Pasig City, with travel history to London. He expired on March 17 from ARDS secondary to COVID-19, pneumonia, with pre-existing hypertension and diabetes mellitus. He was admitted to The Medical City-Ortigas on March 10 and confirmed positive for COVID-19 on March 13.

    The third fatality is Patient 160, who is an 86-year-old Filipino female from San Juan City with no travel history or exposure to a known COVID-19 case. She expired on March 17 from septic shock secondary to pneumonia (high risk) secondary to COVID-19, with chronic kidney disease secondary to hypertensive nephrosclerosis, ischemic heart disease, and peripheral arterial occlusive disease. She was admitted to the Cardinal Santos Medical Center and was confirmed positive for COVID-19 on March 16.

    Despite this, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said government believes the Philippines is unlikely to reach 75,000 cases — a number estimated by some epidemiologists. She said this is because the DOH confident of its capability to address the spread of COVID-19.

    “We can flatten this curve. It means we can prevent this from happening. If only we can implement stringent measures such as social distancing,” Vergeire said in a press briefing.

    She explained the 75,000 figure is based merely on the reproduction rate of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as pegged by the World Health Organization (WHO).

    “It was based on the estimate that one person can transmit the virus to two persons in just one sitting. That was the statistics used,” explained the health official.

    One of the three newly-recovered cases is Patient 15, a 24-year-old Filipino male from Makati City with travel history to the United Arab Emirates. He was admitted last March 7 to the Makati Medical Center, tested negative twice for COVID-19, and was discharged on March 15, 2020.

    The second is Patient 26, who is a 34-year-old Filipino male from Camarines Sur, and is one of the two repatriates from the MV Diamond Princess cruise ship. He was confirmed with COVID-19 on March 10 and has twice tested negative twice for COVID-19.

    The last one to recover is Patient 13, who is a 34-year-old Filipino male from Quezon City with travel history to Australia. He was admitted on March 6 to the Makati Medical Center, confirmed positive for COVID-19 on March 9, and tested negative once for COVID-19 with the second test awaiting results, and was discharged on March 15.

    Vergeire said the three who just recovered were not given any special medicine or treatments, just like all the other COVID-19 patients.

    “There was no special formula used for their recoveries. They were only provided supportive treatment for whatever symptoms they had when they were admitted,” she said.

    Asked whether eating bananas may have helped prevent acquiring the illness, she said there is no scientific evidence to prove it.

    “There is no hard science or evidence to say that bananas will be able to prevent the transmission or prevent a person from having COVID-19. Don’t think that just because they ate bananas that they wont acquire the disease,” said Vergeire.

    Earlier, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said he has been eating bananas in a bid to prevent the deadly novel coronavirus after he read an article online.

    The Government Service Insurance System (GSIS) said another employee in its main office in Pasay City tested positive for COVID-19.

    This brings to two the total number of COVID-19 cases in GSIS.

    The pension fund said the male employee is confined at the Las Piñas General Hospital.

    Earlier, the GSIS reported that one female employee tested positive for COVID-19. The female employee, who had a travel history to Japan, is confined at the San Juan de Dios Hospital.

    “We are currently in the process of contact tracing, and notifying the persons whom these two employees have had close contact with to self-quarantine,” Rolando Macasaet, GSIS president and general manager, said.

    Due to recent developments and the increased threat of COVID-19 nationwide, Macasaet ordered a lockdown of all branch offices across the country.

    Macasaet said he has instructed GSIS employees nationwide to work from home following the issuance of a presidential proclamation placing the entire nation under a state of calamity.

    “We do not want to expose our members and employees to any unnecessary risk, most especially our elderly pensioners who are the ones highly vulnerable to the COVID-19 virus,” Macasaet said.

    However, he assured the public that GSIS will continue its operations.

    “We will continue to accept loan applications, through the GSIS Wireless Automated Processing System kiosks. We also would like to assure our pensioners that they would receive their pensions on time,” Macasaet said.

    Meanwhile, the following GSIS services are temporarily suspended nationwide: filing and processing of retirement/separation benefit claims, non-life insurance claims, and GSIS Financial Assistance Loan applications; and the releasing of GSIS UMID eCards.

    GSIS is also granting a one-month grace period on all premium remittances, loan payments, housing loan amortizations and rentals of GSIS real properties.

    Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte said there are 29 cases of COVID-19 in the city, with one fatality.

    In a press briefing, Belmonte said there were three cases each in barangays BL Crame, Kalusugan, and Tandang Sora, and two cases in barangay Matandang Balara.

    Belmonte said there is one case each in barangays Project 6, San Antonio, Del Monte, Maharlika, San Isidro Labrado, Bagong Silangan, Socorro, E. Rodriguez, Ugong Norte, White Plains, Marilag, South Triangle, Paligsahan, Valencia, Dona Imelda, Pasong Putik, Bagbak, and Pasong Tamo.

    The lone fatality is from barangay Matandang Balara, who is an owner of a shop at the Greenhills Shopping Center in San Juan.

    Belmonte said three of the 29 victims already recovered, two of them are siblings from barangay BL Crame whose mother remains confined at the Quirino Memorial Memorial Medical Center also for COVID. The third is from barangay Paligsahan.

    The Asian Development Bank said it will provide a $6.5 billion initial package to address the immediate needs of its developing member countries as they respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The ADB did not say how much each of the countries will get.

    “This pandemic has become a major global crisis. It requires forceful action at national, regional, and global levels. With our DMCs, we are formulating an aggressive set of actions to combat the pandemic; to protect the poor, the vulnerable, and wider populations across the region; and to ensure economies will rebound as swiftly as possible,” Masatsugu Asakawa, ADB president, said in a statement yesterday.

    “Based on close dialogue with our members and peer institutions, we are deploying this $6.5 billion rescue package to meet the immediate needs of our members,” he added.

    Asawaka stressed that ADB stands ready to provide further financial assistance and policy advice down the road whenever the situation warrants, on top of the $6.5 billion package.

    The initial package includes approximately $3.6 billion in sovereign operations for a range of responses to the health and economic consequences of the pandemic, and $1.6 billion in non-sovereign operations for micro, small, and medium-sized enterprises, domestic and regional trade, and firms directly impacted.

    ADB will also mobilize about $1 billion in concessional resources through reallocations from ongoing projects and assessing possible needs for contingencies.

    The multilateral agency will make available $40 million in technical assistance and quick-disbursing grants.


     At the House, party-list lawmakers donated thousands of protective gear to hospital front-liners in Metro Manila and some affected provinces.

    The Party-list Coalition Foundation Inc. (PCFI) distributed 150,000 pieces of face masks, 1,300 goggles,  40,000 gloves, and 1,300 pieces of personal protective equipment.

    “Coalition members rallied together for the concerted effort to help defend the frontliners versus COVID-19. The coalition members were mobilized via online conferences to make sure everything was done as fast and effective as possible because we are in a race against COVID-19,” said Barangay Health Wellness (BHW) party-list Rep. Angelica Natasha Co, the overall-in-charge of the distribution activities

    Among the recipient hospitals are AFP and PNP, PGH, Lung Center, NKTI, San Lazaro, East Avenue, RITM, Rizal Medical Pasig, Pasig General, Ospital ng Maynila,Fabella, and UST. — with Victor Reyes, Angela Celis and Wendell Vigilia 


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