Philippines coronavirus cases rise to 462, death toll hits 33

(UPDATED) – The Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 82 new coronavirus cases on Monday afternoon, March 23, bringing to 462 the total number of cases in the Philippines.

This includes the 16 cases earlier reported by DOH on Monday morning.

The number of total fatalities due to the virus rose to 33 after the health department reported 8 additional deaths. The DOH also announced a patient has recovered from the virus, bringing the country's total recoveries to 18.

In a press briefing on Monday afternoon, DOH Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that the number of confirmed cases in the country will continue to rise in the coming days as the health department has extended testing laboratories nationwide and the testing kits from other countries have arrived.

"Mas marami na po tayong nagagawang test ngayon at nare-reduce na natin ang ating backlogs and because of that, baka artificial rise ito, so sabi ko nga, huwag kayo magugulat kung pataas tayo ng pataas dahil sa artificial rise," Vergeire said.

(We are able to conduct more tests now and reduce our backlogs. This rise in the number of positive cases may be artificial because of that, and as I've said, don't be surprised if this will keep on increasing.)

According to Vergeire, even though the rise is "artificial," it doesn't mean that the number of cases is not rising.

"Umaakyat na po siya...dahil ngayon papunta na po tayo para maging stable ang ating testing capacity," Vergeire added. (The number of cases is already rising because our testing capacity is becoming stable.)

President Rodrigo Duterte declared a state of calamity as cases of coronavirus in the country continue to rise.

The global death toll, meanwhile, has reached at least 14,396, with at least 5,476 of the fatalities in Italy and 3,261 in China (excluding Hong Kong and Macau).

The number of cases worldwide has risen to more than 324,000, with more than 81,000 cases in China and 59,000 cases in Italy. The virus has spread to 171 countries. – with a report from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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Sofia Tomacruz

Sofia Tomacruz covers foreign affairs, the overseas Filipino workers, and elections. She also writes stories on the treatment of women and children. Follow her on Twitter @sofiatomacruz. Email her at sofia.tomacruz@rappler.com.

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