Philippines logs 9,296 new COVID-19 cases

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MANILA, March 30 (Xinhua) — The Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) reported on Tuesday 9,296 new confirmed cases of COVID-19, bringing the country’s total tally to 741,181.

The COVID-19 related death toll rose to 13,191 after five more patients died from the coronavirus epidemic, the DOH said.

The Philippines reverted Metro Manila and its four adjacent provinces to the highest quarantine level on Monday following a sharp increase in COVID-19 cases this month. The seven-day lockdown ends on April 4.

The DOH has recommended extending the tight coronavirus restrictions in these areas, the epicenter of the latest surge, for another week.

“Extension for another week was recommended, but nothing is final,” the DOH said in a brief statement.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said Tuesday that the inter-agency task force will assess the situation before April 4 and decide on the possible lockdown extension. The task force will meet on Saturday.

“Our doors are not closed (to) this (lockdown) extension if we see that the hospitals cannot still manage the number of cases,” Vergeire said in a television interview, adding that a week “is really not enough.”

“We have to understand that even after one week of this strict lockdown, we really cannot see any change in the numbers or any change in the healthcare utilization (rate) because that is just a short time,” Vergeire added.

Carlito Galvez, chief implementer of the Philippines’ National Task Force against COVID-19, said in a televised press conference that the government “will look seriously at the experts’ recommendation” to extend the lockdown measures, especially if these areas will continue to see a “sharp, steep rise” in infections.

Former Philippine President Joseph Estrada was among those who recently contracted the novel coronavirus. Estrada, 83, was rushed to a hospital on Sunday afternoon but was forced to spend the night in an emergency room due to lack of available space, according to media reports.

Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar confirmed on Monday that he tested positive for COVID-19.

“Though I am asymptomatic, I was immediately isolated and placed on home quarantine,” Andanar said in a statement.

Andanar is the sixth member of President Rodrigo Duterte’s cabinet that caught the highly infectious virus. Enditem

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