The total number of COVID-19 cases in the country has reached 27,799, with recoveries exceeding 7,000, the Department of Health (DOH) reported on Thursday.
A new batch of 562 infections was announced by the DOH, 481 of which are “fresh” or were validated within the last three days. The other 81 were part of the agency’s backlog.
Fresh cases have been higher than late cases since June 7.
The Thursday bulletin also listed 270 more recoveries, pushing the total number of survivors to 7,090. These figures mean that one out of four infected has recovered. However, the DOH said nine more died, bringing the total number of deaths to 1,116.
The DOH also clarified that one duplicate case, which was formerly tagged as a death, was removed from the total case count.
“The total cases reported may be subject to change as these numbers undergo constant cleaning and validation,” it said.
Meanwhile, infections among Filipinos abroad reached 6,091, according to the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA).
This came after another 17 caught the virus. The DFA also said another patient recovered while six more died, bringing the total to 2,843 recoveries and 472 deaths.
The DOH, which has been distinguishing “fresh” from “late” cases since late May, said it is first looking to clear backlogs on COVID-19 testing and data transmission before returning to its old system of reporting cases.
The modified reporting has drawn criticism, including from Dr. Tony Leachon, former special adviser to the COVID-19 National Task Force, who labeled the agency’s performance as “mediocre” and called for the release of real-time data.
It also raised suspicions of Ombudsman Samuel Martires, who ordered on Wednesday an investigation into the alleged “irregularities and anomalies” in the DOH’s COVID-19 response measures.
COVID-19 spike in Cebu City
According to the latest update, Central Visayas, where COVID-19 hotspot Cebu City is located, posted the most number of new cases at 299. This is the highest number of fresh cases registered in a single day by the region.
Metro Manila, which is under general community quarantine until June 30, came next with 153 cases.
Cebu City reverted to enhanced community quarantine — the strictest lockdown level — as officials noted that the local health care system may get overwhelmed due to the surge in cases.
Joint Task Force (JTF) COVID Shield commander PLGen. Guillermo Eleazar said the JTF will deploy additional police forces in the city to strictly enforce quarantine measures.
“We need to have a unified front to effectively enforce the quarantine rules,” said Eleazar. “As among the frontliners, the police should really work together in coordination with other frontliners and the people that we protect.”
There are a total of 450 police personnel who have been infected with COVID-19, after the Philippine National Police registered 10 new cases on Thursday. The PNP said 271 already got well, while seven lost their lives to the disease.
The JTF said at least 100 policemen will initially be sent to Cebu City by both the Police Regional Office 6 in Western Visayas and the Police Regional Office 8 in Eastern Visayas.
It added that it will likewise be sending reinforcements to Talisay, a component city under Cebu province, which the government placed under modified enhanced community quarantine or MECQ.
However, it is not yet certain if this will push through after the Cebu provincial government announced on Thursday evening that Governor Gwendolyn Garcia will be issuing an executive order to de-escalate the lockdown status in the component city.
“Citing the power given by the IATF to governors over quarantine status of its LGUs, Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia will lift the MECQ status of Talisay City,” the provincial government said. “All town and city mayors in Cebu Province agreed to this move as well.”
The executive order will still have to undergo validation by the regional IATF.
Mayor Samsam Gullas earlier appealed to the government to reconsider its decision to place Talisay under MECQ, saying the regional health department submitted to the IATF incorrect data on their coronavirus cases.