IN CHARTS: COVID-19 cases in the Philippines

Since the start of the coronavirus outbreak in the country, the Department of Health (DOH) has been issuing daily reports on the status of confirmed cases in the country. 

Over 7 months since the first confirmed case on January 30, the total number of cases in the Philippines already breached 238,000 on Monday, September 7.

The total number of new cases reported on August 10, at 6,958, is the highest so far, surpassing the tally on August 4, which had 6,352 new cases.

When the number of new cases spiked in late May, the DOH's daily report started categorizing "fresh" cases – those whose test results were released within the last 3 days from reporting date – and "late" cases, or those with test results released after 4 days or more. They gradually did away with this method of reporting around mid-July.

The chart below shows the number of confirmed cases reported by the DOH per day, including the distinction between "fresh" and "late" cases from May 28 until late July: 

In its separate daily situation reports, the DOH uses the date of onset of illness (or in its absence, the date of specimen collection) to show the earliest occurrence of the virus in each case. This is prior to the further validation of the cases that allow their inclusion in the official counts.

Looking at this chart, using data as of September 7, the number of new cases per day started to go up around late May and June, and continued to rise in July and early August, with the highest one-day count so far at 4,847 recorded on August 10.

Community quarantines in many areas around the country had been relaxed around June, but some had returned or remained under strict lockdowns since then.

Cumulative counts

As of September 7, a total of 49,931 out of 238,727 cases were said to be active, making up 20.92% of all confirmed cases. Since March 8, when the country reached 10 cases, this rate had hovered above 60%.

It went down to 25% on July 30, when the DOH reported over 38,000 recoveries due to a "mass recovery" adjustment. Since then, it has hovered around that rate, only reaching as high as 53% on August 15.

See below how the total number for confirmed cases, active cases, deaths, and recoveries have progressed each day in the country, based on the DOH's data.

(Find out the breakdown of cases per major area: Metro Manila | Luzon | Visayas | Mindanao)

Case projections

At the end of June, the number of cases came close to reaching the 40,000-figure a group of experts from the University of the Philippines predicted, on account of a still high reproduction number, which indicates the "transmission potential" of a disease. While the government declared this feat a "win," the total count eventually crossed 40,000 3 days later.

The same experts then projected that total cases may reach 60,000 by July 31. By mid-July, however, the country already hit that number. These experts then predicted 85,000 cases by the end of July. This threshold was breached on July 29.

The next projection by these experts is at least 150,000 cases by end-August. After this milestone was breached on August 14, the experts then estimated as much as 230,000 cases by August 31, which was nearly met, when only over 220,000 cases were logged.

By end-September, the Philippines may have between 330,000 to 375,000 cases, they said.

Deaths

As of September 7, there have been 3,890 deaths out of 238,727 confirmed cases in the country. This is equivalent to a case fatality rate of 1.63% for the Philippines. This is below the global case fatality rate of around 3.26%, based on data from the World Health Organization as of September 7.

As in the tally for total cases, there are delays in reporting out the deaths and adding them to the national tally. The DOH had explained that the recent spikes in reported COVID-19 deaths were due to "a delay in the submission of validated mortality cases" from local government units to the department's epidemiology bureau.

For instance, out of the single-day record of 162 deaths reported on July 12, the DOH said 20 died in May, 90 in June, and 51 in July.

Looking at the deaths by date of death, the DOH pointed to a downward trend in the number of new COVID-19 deaths, from a peak around late March.

As of September 7, only 3,840 of 3,890 reported deaths (or 98.71%) have dates of death and are labeled as "Died" in the DOH dataset. This means the chart for COVID-19 fatalities based on date of death is not yet the complete picture.

Below, compare the charts for deaths by date reported and by date of actual death.

Recoveries

As of September 7, there have been 184,906 recoveries out of 238,727 confirmed cases in the country. This means a case recovery rate of 77.46% for the Philippines.

The most recoveries reported in a single day was 40,397, on August 16. The DOH explained that this sudden spike in recoveries was due to their implementation of a "mass recovery" program, where mild and asymptomatic cases are tagged as recoveries based on discharging criteria by the World Health Organization and endorsed by Philippine medical societies.

See below the chart for recoveries by date reported.

Meanwhile, in the DOH dataset as of September 7, only 39,076 of 184,906 recoveries (or 21.13%) indicate a date of actual recovery and are tagged as "Recovered." The DOH attributed the missing dates of actual recovery to "the incomplete and inaccurate contact information placed in the Case Investigation Forms." (READ: How complete is DOH's coronavirus dataset?)

Compared to ASEAN

Among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines has the highest number of total and active cases, and the 3rd lowest case recovery rate thus far, next to Myanmar and Indonesia.

In terms of case fatality rate, the country currently ranks 5th, next to Indonesia, Vietnam, Brunei, and Thailand.

The Philippines currently ranks 3rd to Myanmar and Indonesia in terms of percentage of active cases, and second to Singapore in terms of the number of cases per 1 million population.

Data in the table below is as of September 8, 1:17 pm.

– Rappler.com

Michael Bueza

Michael Bueza is a researcher and data curator under Rappler's Research Team. He works on data about elections, governance, and the budget. He also follows the Philippine pro wrestling scene and the WWE. Michael is also part of the Laffler Talk podcast trio.

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