CLOSE to 2,000 new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases were reported yesterday by the Department of Health (DOH), bringing the total cases in the country to over 70,000.
In its latest bulletin, the DOH said that of the 1,951 new cases, majority came from the National Capital Region (NCR) with 1,464, followed by Cebu (90), Laguna (74), Cavite (53), and Rizal (36).
The total number of COVID-19 cases now stands at 70,764, with 1,837 fatalities, counting two more deaths yesterday, while 209 more have recovered, raising the number of survivors to 23,281.
Earlier this month, experts from the University of the Philippines projected the number of COVID-19 cases in the country may exceed 100,000 by the end of August based on the prevailing trend.
In a television interview, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that while the current trend points to such a scenario, “we are not saying that this will happen with certainty.”
Instead of waiting for such projections and estimates to be reached, Vergeire urged everyone to work together in preventing this from happening.
“We need to adhere to the minimum health protocols in order for us to prevent reaching that number,” said Vergeire.
Meanwhile, the Department of Foreign Affairs said nine more Filipinos in Asia and the Pacific and Europe were infected with COVID-19 while one more succumbed to the virus in the Middle East.
The DFA said the total number of overseas Filipinos infected with the deadly virus has reached 9,145 in 68 countries (one more country in Europe reported an infection) and 645 deaths.
The DFA said there were 9 new recoveries in Asia and the Pacific, bringing the recoveries to 5,369, while 3,131 are still undergoing treatment.
A male employee working at the bills and index division has become the 18th COVID-19 case at the House of Representatives.
“An employee assigned at Bills & Index Service tested positive for COVID-19,” House secretary general Joel Luis Montales said in a statement yesterday. Montales said that while the employee has been working from home since June 18, he went to their office last June 29 to submit some documents.
He also announced that the first confirmed case from the Internal Audit Department has now tested negative.
The House leadership has been strictly implementing health protocols, holding hearings online or and ensuring that social distancing is being followed when lawmakers physically attend hearings such as the one on the bills seeking to renew the franchise of ABS-CBN Corp.
Deputy speaker Johnny Pimentel of Surigao del Sur, spokesman of the ruling party Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan (PDP-Laban), warned the President against going to the Batasan on Monday to deliver his State of the Nation Address (SONA).
“I think it would be better if he just stayed in Malacañang,” he said, pointing out the 75-year-old Chief Executive might be put in harm’s way as the House has already recorded many cases of COVID-19, two of whom have died.
While only a total of 50 guests from both Houses of Congress and the Executive department will attend the SONA, Pimentel said the affair can still potentially expose the President to the virus.
“There will be hundreds of staff (members) to conduct SONA in Congress not including the PSG (Presidential Security Group),” he said.
Camiguin Rep. Xavier Jesus “XJ” Romualdo, however, believes the President will be safe at the Batasan Complex.
“I’m confident that the Executive Branch and Congress will be able to implement measures that will keep the President and all attendees and staff safe,” Romualdo said.
Romualdo said that while he would have no problem with Duterte delivering his SONA through videoconferencing, he understands the President’s decision to stick to tradition.
“That the President will address Congress at the start of our regular sessions is, after all, a presidential duty imposed by the Constitution and so I understand why the President would want to do it in person and not through virtual means,” he said.
Antipolo’s health veterinary office and police headquarter have been locked down until July 29.
Mayor Andeng Ynares said a staff of the veterinary office was exposed to a COVID positive victim while one cop in the city had tested positive for the virus.
There are 504 confirmed COVID cases in Antipolo and 43 deaths.
Work at the New Executive Building (NEB), which houses offices of the communications team of President Dutete, was suspended yesterday for disinfection after a female member of the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) tested positive for COVID-19. She is now in quarantine.
Apart from PCOO, the NEB also houses the Office of the Presidential Spokesman, Chief Presidential Legal Counsel, Presidential Legislative Liaison, Presidential Assistant for Religious Affairs, Media Accreditation and Relations Office, and Presidential News Desk, among others. The press working area occupied by members of the Malacanang Press Corps and the Press Briefing Room where presidential spokesman Harry Roque gives his virtual briefing are also located at NEB.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said work at NEB will resume on July 27.
One PCOO personnel had died due to the coronavirus while a personnel at the Philippine Information Agency, which is also under PCOO, had tested positive early this month. – With Ashzel Hachero, Wendell Vigilia, Jocelyn montemayor, and Christian Oineza