MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines is “winning” in the fight against COVID-19, Malacañang said on Monday as it disputed the report of the World Health Organization (WHO) that the Philippines had the fastest rise in new coronavirus cases in the Western Pacific region.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said he disagreed with the WHO report, stressing that the data should be looked at in terms of a country’s population.
Roque also said the steps the government had taken, including placing Luzon on lockdown in mid-March, had saved the country from having 3.6 million COVID-19 cases.
The WHO said the Philippines had 9,035 new cases since June 16, the highest among the 22 countries in the Western Pacific. Ranked second was Singapore with 2,855 new cases, followed by China, where the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 originated, with 331.
In relation to population
“Of course, if you will look at the rise in cases, it should be in relation to your population. Why would we be compared to Singapore, when Singapore [has only] 5 million [people],” Roque said at a press briefing.
He also compared the Philippines’ numbers with those of India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia and Singapore to show that the Philippines did not have the highest number of cases in the Western Pacific.
Save for Singapore, however, these countries are not in the Western Pacific.
When this was pointed out to Roque, he said he did not want to “nitpick” and added that the other countries he mentioned are also in Asia.
He also described the Philippines as “winning” when it comes to fighting COVID-19, based on its positivity, case doubling and mortality rates.
The positivity rate, referring to the number of people testing positive for the new coronavirus, is 6 percent. The Philippines has recorded 1,244 deaths out of 35,455 COVID-19 cases as of June 28.
“As in fact, we defied what was predicted by the [University of the Philippines, or UP] study. We have limited the case to 35,000, instead of what could have been at least 3 million cases,” Roque said.
He was referring to the graph prepared by UP that showed that had it not imposed a lockdown, the Philippines could have had 3.6 million COVID-19 cases.
“What we are doing now is ensuring that while there is still no vaccine, we are able to slow down the spread of the disease because we have to give medical assistance to those infected,” he added.
On Monday, the Department of Health (DOH) reported 985 additional coronavirus cases, pushing the nationwide total to 36,438. Of the additional cases, 643 were patients who tested positive for the new coronavirus in the last three days.
Metro Manila accounted for the largest number of fresh cases, 223. Central Visayas had 106.
The remainder of the additional cases, 342, were patients who tested positive four days ago or earlier. Metro Manila also topped the list, with 96.
The DOH reported that 270 more patients had recovered, pushing the total number of COVID-19 survivors to 9,956. But the death toll rose to 1,255 with the deaths of 11 more patients. Eight of them died between June 6 and June 23.
—With a report from Jovic Yee
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