The country reported on Thursday its highest ever single-day increase in coronavirus cases, with 539 new infections and a nationwide tally that surged to 15,588.
The newly-recorded infections announced by the Department of Health broke the previous record high of 538 on March 31.
The agency added that 92 more have beaten the virus, while an additional 17 have lost their lives to COVID-19.
These latest figures bring recoveries to 3,598, and the death toll to 921.
The country now has 11,069 active cases of the viral illness, with Metro Manila logging the most number of new infections at 330 or over 60 percent.
Another 55 have been registered in Central Visayas, while 99 have been recorded in other regions nationwide. Meanwhile, returning overseas Filipino workers constitute 55 of the new cases.
The DOH also confirmed 15 more healthcare workers caught the disease, raising the tally to 2,452.
Fifteen more recovered for a total of 1,228, while no new fatalities were recorded since May 10. The death toll remains at 31.
‘Surge due to backlogs being processed’
In a Thursday press briefing, Health spokesperson Maria Rosario Vergeire attributed the surge in infections to an increased workforce that can validate COVID-19 cases.
“Ang trend ng mga bilang ng kaso ay tumataas, ngunit dahil po ito sa patuloy na pagtaas ng mga kaso nating nava-validate sa ngayon dahil nakapag-hire na po tayo ng additional encoders,” she said.
[Translation: The trend of COVID-19 cases is increasing, but this is due to the growing number of cases we are currently able to validate after having hired additional encoders.]
She also mentioned earlier that the spike recorded in recent days is possibly just an “artificial rise” due to more test results of OFWs coming in.
In an interview on CNN Philippines’ News Night, infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña noted that the 55 newly recorded infections involving repatriates represented imported — and not community — transmission.
He echoed the DOH statement that the country should brace for a continued upward trend of cases in the next few days, as more backlog tests are processed.
Salvaña added that it is important to determine if the infections are clustering in localities. This should guide officials in carrying out localized lockdowns, while other areas with no coronavirus cases may “cautiously reopen.”
President Rodrigo Duterte is expected to announce his decision Thursday night on whether to ease or prolong the modified ECQ implemented in certain areas.
The COVID-19 inter-agency task force has earlier submitted to the chief executive a formal recommendation to place the capital region under a more relaxed general community quarantine, except for high-risk barangays.
All 17 Metro Manila mayors have also recommended the easing of quarantine restrictions to jumpstart the economy.
Globally, nearly 5.7 million have contracted coronavirus, with over 355,000 deaths and more than 2.3 million recoveries.
At least 100 countries have joined or expressed interest in participating in the World Health Organization’s ‘solidarity’ clinical trial, which aims to find an effective treatment for the viral disease.