NINE new cases of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were reported by the Department of Health (DOH) yesterday, bringing the total number of positive cases in the country to 33.
In a press conference, Health Assistant Secretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the nine new cases were on top of the four disclosed by President Duterte late on Monday night.
“Of the 13 new cases, patients 21 to 24 are in stable condition, patients 25 to 26 are asymptomatic, and the statuses of patients 27 to 33 are for verification,” Vergeire said.
On Monday afternoon, the DOH reported 10 more confirmed cases, bringing the total in the country to 20, with just one death.
Among the 13 new cases, seven have no travel history, two were passengers of the Diamond Princess cruise ship, three were exposed to carriers of the virus, while the last one had a travel history to Switzerland. Their ages ranged from 30 to 82, seven of them females.
They are confined at the Dr. Jose Rodriguez Memorial Hospital, Cardinal Santos Medical Center, San Lazaro Hospital, St. Luke’s Medical Center in Quezon City, New Clark City quarantine facility, and Medical City.
Despite the continued surge in cases of the virus, Vergeire said they still cannot declare a community transmission, for now.
“We are awaiting the gene sequencing, where we analyze the samples from our patients who are positive, so we can determine if there are epidemiological links to one another,” said Vergeire. “We need to get all information by tonight so that we can readily analyze and conclude whether there is a sustained community transmission.”
Vergeire said they are accelerating their analysis to be able to make timely interventions in the event of a community transmission.
“We want to analyze the data immediately because we don’t want to be late in declaring a community transmission so that our response will be amplified accordingly,” she said, adding one response being considered is the imposition of a lockdown in COVID-19 afflicted areas.
“We reach the point of a lockdown when we are already in Code Red Alert Sublevel 2, wherein we have a sustained transmission. That is where a lockdown intervention can be employed,” said Vergeire.
Vergeire also denied reports that two of the confirmed COVID-19 cases have died, saying they remain in “guarded conditions”.
The two are Patients 5 and 9 or the 62-year-old Filipino male at the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine and the 86-year-old American male at the Medical City.
Patient 5 has severe pneumonia, hypertension, and diabetes mellitus while Patient 9 has pre-existing hypertension.
“Because of co-morbidities alongside them having COVID-19, they are in critical conditions and are closely monitored in our referral hospitals,” said Vergeire.
“They are not yet dead. We just want that clarified,” she added.
Patient 2, a 44-year-old Chinese male, remains the lone COVID-19 mortality in the Philippines.
Among the newly-confirmed cases are two repatriated Filipinos from the MV Diamond Princess cruise ship in Japan who are quarantined at the New Clark City in Tarlac.
There were a total of 445 Filipinos from the Diamond Princess cruise ship, including 440 crew members and five passengers that have been placed under quarantine.
Three of the latest patients infected by the COVID-19 virus are from Quezon City, said Quezon City Mayor Joy Belmonte, adding they have taken measures to contain the spread of the virus.
One of the patients is a 57-year-old man from Baler St. with no travel history but he had visitors from China, the US and Davao before he got sick.
“We already interviewed his family, we’ve gotten swab samples from the household members and they’ve not exhibited symptoms,” Belmonte said, adding the household members are on self quarantine.
She said barangay officials have been posted outside the residence of the victim to ensure the household members will not leave the house.
The second, who is in his 30s, lives in a condominium in the Tomas Morato-Timog area while the third is from Project 6, who is in his 50s and recently traveled to Switzerland.
National Capital Region Police Office Director Debold Sinas yesterday confirmed that four personnel of his office are on self-quarantine for possible infection of the virus.
“Two are non-uniformed personnel who had recently travelled to Japan,” Sinas said in a press briefing. The other two, he said, are cops who frequently went to the Muslim prayer room in Greenhills.
COVID TEST KITS
Hospitals will need a sophisticated laboratory equipment to use the local corona virus test kit approved for deployment yesterday by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The test kit, developed by scientists at the University of the Philippines, was given a certification of exemption ahead of a validation nod from the World Health Organization, a standard practice that would have taken at least two months.
The lack of test kits for the COVID-19 disease has been traced by the DOH for the possible underreporting of cases in the country.
The kit will be used for field testing and gene sequencing at the UP Philippine Genome Center which, together with UP Manila’s National Institutes of Health, developed the diagnostic tool with funding from the Department of Science and Technology. – With Victor Reyes, Noel Talacay, and Paul Icamina