The number of confirmed novel coronavirus cases in the Philippines breached the 8,000 mark on Wednesday, April 29, as the government reported 254 new cases.
The total number of cases is now at 8,212, said the Department of Health (DOH).
The coronavirus death toll is now at 558, as the DOH reported 28 new deaths as of 4 pm on Wednesday afternoon.
Meanwhile, the number of recovered patients grew by 48, putting the total number of recoveries at 1,023.
The country is only 16 days away from the scheduled end of new quarantine measures – including lockdowns (termed enhanced community quarantine or ECQ) in Metro Manila, other parts of Luzon, Cebu City, Iloilo City, and Davao City.
These lockdowns, however, may either be extended after May 15, or relaxed to give way to the less restrictive general community quarantine or GCQ.
Malacañang has said that the decision to extend or lift the lockdowns will be based on minimum health standards to be finalized by the DOH – standards which will likely factor in the chances of continued coronavirus spread and the capacity of healthcare systems to handle cases.
Status of testing. Earlier on Wednesday, the DOH said it may miss its target of conducting 8,000 daily coronavirus tests by April 30, but expressed confidence that it can meet this later on, as more test kits arrive in the country.
The country's current testing capacity is at 4,900 tests a day as of Tuesday, April 28 – just over half the target.
Experts and lawmakers have lamented the lack of testing, saying the weeks of strict quarantine measures should have been dedicated to ramped up testing and contact-tracing.
But coronavirus government response chief implementor Carlito Galvez Jr vowed more aggressing testing, aiming to test all probable and suspected COVID-19 cases and frontliners by May 15. He set an even earlier deadline for Metro Manila patients and frontliners – May 7.
Over 1,300 healthworkers tested positive for the virus, out of which 29 have died, according to April 28 figures.
The Philippines, with a population of over 100 million, has 19 operational COVID-19 testing centers. – Rappler.com
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.