THE Department of Health on Sunday reported 50 new fatalities from the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the highest in a single day, raising the total to 297.
The number of cases also rose to 4,648 with the addition of 220 cases. There were 40 more recoveries, bringing the total to 197, said the DOH.
In a press briefing, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the high number in new deaths and recoveries among COVID-19 patients “include the unreported cases/backlogs.”
She said the backlogs are being addressed now that the DOH has improved its testing capacity.
“We are catching up on our backlogs having expanded our testing capacities,” said Vergeire.
As of Sunday, the DOH has tested 33,814 individuals.
Globally, the disease that came from China has affected some 1.7 million individuals in 214 countries and territories, and killed at least 108,250 persons, according to a Reuters tally.
Vergeire, on changes in the classification system of COVID-19 patients, said the DOH needed to make amendments in the classification of suspected, probable, and confirmed cases to keep in step with the global health community.
“We are not changing. But, we are evolving due to the new epidemiological information coming in on a daily basis. As we all know, this is a novel virus. This is why we learn something new every day,” said Vergeire.
“We followed the recommendations of the World Health Organization. We, therefore, aligned our reporting system for COVID-19 cases with those of other countries to make them uniform,” she added.
The DOH, in an advisory on Saturday, said it will do away with old classifications of “persons under investigation (PUIs) and “persons under monitoring (PUMs).” Under the new system, PUMs will no longer be considered as COVID-19 patients. PUIs will now be classified as “suspect” or “probable” cases.
“Suspect cases” are those with symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty in breathing), are 60 years and older, have pre-existing medical conditions, are pregnant, and are health workers.
Also considered as “suspect cases” are those with influenza-like illness (fever, cough, sore throat) and have travel histories to countries with local COVID-19 transmission, or has had close contact with confirmed or probable COVID-19 patients.
The DOH also said “suspect cases” are those who suddenly developed lung ailments with severe symptoms needing hospitalization.
Considered as “probable cases” are all suspect cases with pending test results, whose tests were done in unofficial laboratories conducting RT-PCR tests, or those who have yet to undergo laboratory tests.
Classified as “confirmed cases” are those whose laboratory (RT-PCR) test results are positive for COVID-19.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said three new cases were reported by embassies and consulates among Filipinos in 40 countries, bringing the total to 654.
Of the total, 84 have died while 382 are undergoing treatment.
Americas and Europe remained the most deadly regions for Filipinos infected with the virus with 46 and 32 deaths, respectively, although Europe has more cases at 220 compared to 125 in the Americas.
Senate majority leader Juan Miguel Zubiri said he was cleared from COVID-19 infection based on a second test conducted on April 5 at the Makati Health Department. The test result came out on Maundy Thursday but was given to him only on Easter Sunday.
“As a day of Thanksgiving, I would also like to thank God and our Lord for the second chance in my life by healing me from COVID-19. Just received the happiest news ever of my second negative result from the Makati City Health Office,” Zubiri said.
Zubiri is the first senator to have been infected by the virus. He announced that he was infected of COVID-19 last March 16 and has since went on self-quarantine. — With Ashzel Hachero and Raymond Africa