PH:Longest Lockdown;Dead Last in Safety;Tragedy of Errors;Highest FatalityRate;Lowest GDP in Decades

Updated: May 21, 2020

Ayon sa mga Globally Recognized International Media Articles na ito, ang Pilipinas ang may pinakamahabang lockdown sa buong Mundo, Panghuli sa pinakasafe na lugar sa pandemya, May maraming mali sa pagtugon, Pinakamataas na Fatality Rate sa South East Asia, at bumaba ng sobra ang GDP pagkatapos ng dalawang dekada.

Gymnasiums have been made into homeless shelters for those unable to work due to lockdown measures in Manila. Photo Source:


Why Duterte won’t lift world’s longest lockdown -

Philippines Dead Last in List of Safest Countries To Be In During the Coronavirus Pandemic -

The Philippines’ Pandemic Response: A Tragedy of Errors -

The Philippines now has the highest COVID-19 fatality rate and lowest recovery rate in ASEAN - ANC

Philippines GDP shrinks for 1st time in over 2 decades -

Why Duterte won’t lift world’s longest lockdown -

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Philippine leader controversially extends soldier-enforced quarantine that has given cover to myriad abuses

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has extended one of the world’s longest and strictest Covid-19 lockdowns until June, a controversial move that is out-of-step with regional easing trends and promises to intensify the nation’s economic and human suffering.

Now set to run for 11 weeks, or 80 days, the soldier-enforced “collective quarantine” of the capital Metro Manila and other large cities will be longer than the 76-day lockdown of Wuhan, China, the origin of the global pandemic.

The lockdown has arguably done more damage to Filipino livelihoods, with more than one million jobs expected to disappear. Emergency rule has also taken a toll on the nation’s standing as democracy, raising questions if curbs on civil liberties will ever be restored.   

Duterte’s extended lockdown has coincided with a concerted clamp down on independent media and critical voices, including its perfunctory shutdown on flimsy legal grounds of the ABS-CBN News network, the Philippines’ largest broadcaster.

According to the Philippine National Police (PNP), up to 41,000 people have been arrested for violating “Enhanced Community Quarantine” (ECQ) regulations in major cities, with overall violations reaching 156,000.

Around two-thirds of the country’s 11,876 cases and three quarters of its 790 deaths have been concentrated in the urbanized Metro Manila area, according to official statistics.

But while cases are still rising, the confirmed numbers are far lower than in European nations that are now starting to emerge from their virus lockdowns as well as neighbors such as Singapore (26,000).

To be sure, there are reasons to be skeptical of the government’s figures, given the much-delayed introduction of mass testing.

In mid-May, as the lockdown extended into a second month, Duterte’s administration admitted that it failed to reach even its fairly modest target of 8,000 tests per day. Experts believe that figure should increase to at least 30,000 tests a day in order to have a realistic assessment of the situation.

So far, the Philippines has tested just over 188,000 people in a country of 100 million.

The economic impact of the lockdown, which was initially scheduled to end by April, has been devastating on all fronts, pushing the Philippines’ into recession for the first time since the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis.

Gross domestic product (GDP) contracted by .2% in the first quarter of this year, a massive collapse from the 6.7% growth recorded in the previous quarter. Second quarter figures are expected to be even more devastating, with economists projecting a 3.4% economic contraction this year.

If so, it will mark the worst economic crisis since the Ferdinand Marcos dictatorship, under which the country fell into a major debt crisis that caused economic contraction. It also marks a sharp reversal of a decade of sustained fast economic growth, averaging at around 6% throughout the 2010s.

“The lockdown had a big impact on Covid cases but it also impacted the economy,” spokesman Roque said in a briefing.

“Government resources are limited, so we have to generate resources for the long-term fight against Covid. In the future, if without economic interventions, the result would be more harmful than the effects of Covid.”

The Duterte government appears to be pre-empting that economic decline and the potential for it to spark instability by curbing civil liberties, as authorities clamp down on critics in the name of battling “misinformation.”

Under the “Bayanihan to Heal As One Act”, Duterte has been given broad special powers to “move, decide and act freely for the best interest of the Filipino people during this health crisis.”

A major source of concern, however, is Section 6(6) of the special powers law, which grants extraordinary leeway to the government on how to define misinformation and regulate the flow of information amid the ongoing crisis.

The implementation of the broadly defined new regulations has been largely selective, targeting primarily critics of the government. Since April, the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) Cybercrime division has issued a flurry of subpoenas and arrest warrants against netizens.

More recently, it arrested teacher Ronnel Mas from the northern city of Dagupan for a social media post offering a bounty of US$1 million for anyone who is willing “to kill Duterte”, a satirical commentary on the president’s offer of a similar amount as prize money for a Covid-19 vaccine discovery.

The netizen was charged with incitement to sedition, which carries a heavy penalty if found guilty. Another man, from the central Philippines city of Aklan, was arrested for a similar post, offering twice the previous amount for the president’s assassination.

NBI Director Eric Distor said the NBI is “serious in carrying out its mandate to pursue cases involving threats to security or assaults against the person of the President as well as of the Vice President, Senate President, Speaker of the House of Representatives and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court.”

A more disturbing case, however, was the arrest of a 41-year-old salesman, Reynaldo Orcullo, from the southern Agusan del Norte province who simply called the president, affectionately known as ‘Digong’, as “crazy” amid growing frustration over the extended lockdown.

Authorities maintain that they are not targeting critics of the administration. But some see a Covid-19 double standard emerging for those who support and oppose the president. The NBI recently filed subpoenas against Senator Koko Pimentel, who violated his personal quarantine after testing positive for COVID-19 last month.

Critics note the PNP has yet to charge Metro-Manila police chief Debold Sinas, who held a large birthday party recently in clear violation of social distancing regulations. To quell a public outcry, authorities have promised an internal probe.

But it seems unlikely to most observers that the police chief charged with cracking down on Duterte’s critics will be subject to the same sort of punitive treatment, particularly as the pressure builds around the nation’s extended lockdown.  


Philippines Dead Last in List of Safest Countries To Be In During the Coronavirus Pandemic -

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The Philippines is dead last in a list of countries in Asia Pacific considered the safest during the coronavirus pandemic, according to an evaluation by a Hong Kong-based venture capital firm. 

Deep Knowledge Ventures, which is focused on health care and longevity technology, ranked 20 countries in Asia Pacific on these parameters: lowest likelihood of infection, lowest chance of mortality, and highest likelihood of recovery based on efficiency of quarantine and government management, monitoring and detection, and emergency treatment readiness.

The Philippines ranked 20th on the list, behind Indonesia (19th) and Bangladesh (18th), meaning it is considered the least safe and most at-risk country in Asia Pacific.

In an interview with the Nikkei Asian Review, Dmitry Kaminskiy, DKV's founder and managing partner, said these countries are likely to face "quite negative dynamics" in the coming weeks, lamenting the "inefficiency of government management" in the Philippines in particular.

Topping the list and earning the highest marks in the safety ranking in Asia Pacific region are South Korea at number one, followed by Australia, China, New Zealand, and Taiwan.

Those in the middle level include Vietnam, Thailand, Malaysia, and India.

In a separate article on Forbes, Margaretta Colangelo, co-founder and managing partner of Deep Knowledge Group, said the Asia Pacific ranking applies a modified version of DKV’s global COVID-19 Countries Safety and Risk Ranking Frameworks tuned to the specifics of the region.

"Given that the pandemic originated in APAC, and that it is several weeks ahead of other countries in the overall timeline of the COVID-19, special attention should be given to the unique characteristics of the region," she said.

As of Tuesday, April 14, the Philippines has the most number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Southeast Asia, with 5,223, and 335 deaths. Malaysia is second with 4,897 cases and 82 deaths, and Indonesia third with 4,839 cases and 459 deaths.

Meanwhile, DKV’s global ranking of the safest countries to be in during the coronavirus pandemic puts Israel on top, retaining the number one spot from a previous safety ranking. Others in the top include Germany, South Korea, Australia, China, New Zealand, Taiwan, Singapore, Japan, and Hong Kong.

Colangelo said data for over 200 countries was analyzed and 60 countries were ultimately included in the rankings. The countries were evaluated using 24 specific parameters in four categories: Quarantine Efficiency, Government Management Efficiency, Monitoring and Detection, and Emergency Treatment Readiness.

"The Safety and Risk Rankings take into account protection from COVID infection, mortality and negative patient outcomes, metrics on quarantining and infection monitoring, detection, and management, and safety and stability in the broadest sense, including protection from extreme negative outcomes as a result of the pandemic beyond health," she added. 

Globally, the Philippines placed ninth in the 20 countries most at risk during the pandemic. In this list, Italy remains in the top spot, followed by the USA, the UK, Spain, France, Sweden, Iran and Ecuador. Romania completes the top 10.

"The COVID-19 Risk Ranking Framework conducts benchmarking of countries according to their levels of risk according to a variety of medical and non-medical factors, including risk of infection, hospitalization, death and lasting health conditions, as well as the country’s risk of negative economic, quality-of-life and geopolitical issues resulting from the pandemic," Colangelo said in the Forbes article. 


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‘Shoot them dead,’ Philippine’s Duterte warns coronavirus lockdown violators -

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday warned violators of coronavirus lockdown measures they could be shot for causing trouble and said abuse of medical workers was a serious crime that would not be tolerated.

In a televised address, Duterte said it was vital everyone cooperates and follows home quarantine measures, as authorities try to slow the coronavirus contagion and spare the country's fragile health system from being overwhelmed.

The Philippines has recorded 96 coronavirus deaths and 2,311 confirmed cases, all but three in the past three weeks, with infections now being reported in the hundreds every day.

"It is getting worse. So once again I'm telling you the seriousness of the problem and that you must listen," Duterte said late on Wednesday.

"My orders to the police and military ... if there is trouble and there's an occasion that they fight back and your lives are in danger, shoot them dead."

"Is that understood? Dead. Instead of causing trouble, I will bury you."

His comments came after media reports of a disturbance and several arrests on Wednesday of residents in a poor area of Manila who were protesting about sufficient government food aid.

They also follow outrage among the medical community about social stigma and instances of hospital workers suffering physical abuse and discrimination, which Duterte said must be stopped.

‘Deeply alarming,’ says Amnesty

Responding to Duterte’s call, Amnesty International on Thursday said the Philippine leader’s statement was “deeply alarming” and warned, “Deadly, unchecked force should never be used in an emergency such as the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Referring to Wednesday’s incident in San Roque village in Quezon City, Amnesty International noted that when residents were informed that a government relief distribution had run out of supplies, they decided to stay in the area and stage a protest to demand relief.

The residents told Amnesty International that the police then “resorted to violently dispersing the protestors and hit them with wooden sticks".

Activists deride Duterte over his fierce rhetoric and accuse him of inviting violence and vigilantism, as shown in his war on drugs, during which police and mystery gunmen have killed thousands of people accused of using or selling drugs.

Police say their actions in the anti-drug campaign have been lawful.

Duterte's office typically calls his remarks hyperbole to underline his point.

The national police chief on Thursday said police understood that Duterte was demonstrating his seriousness about public order, and no one would be shot.



The Philippines’ Pandemic Response: A Tragedy of Errors -

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The Duterte administration’s COVID-19 response marries incompetence with militarism.

The Philippine government has been boasting that as early as March 16, they had the gumption to implement a lockdown in major cities and provinces in response to the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. However, Manila’s overall response to the pandemic has been fraught with incompetence and rife with terror. 

The implementation of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ) came on the heels of serious negligence — namely, the authorities failing to keep up with the preventive measures of neighboring countries and grossly underestimating the virus. What’s worse, instead of easing the overall burden that the virus unleashed on the country, it seems the last resort lockdown itself added to a plethora of problems without adequately addressing the primary crisis at hand: ensuring public health and safety.

Strict compliance with the ECQ is ordered for all citizens, with the exception of frontline professionals, until at least May 15. That has meant curfews, harsh penalties for being outside, and an impoverished population descending into hunger. 

The global crisis is first and foremost a public health issue, but Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has faced the coronavirus pandemic in a decidedly militaristic fashion. Since the lockdown went into effect, he has peddled the narrative of pasaways or “undisciplined” citizens as responsible for the ensuing problems. He has also brought up unsubstantiated activities of guerrilla groups as threats to government aid efforts without conceding any missteps in his management. On top of deploying thousands of police and soldiers throughout the archipelago to enforce the ECQ, Duterte has on two occasions threatened the public with all-out martial law. There have been moments of abject incompetence from those in power around the world, but using the pandemic as a reason for increasingly flexing authoritarian muscles spells danger for the Philippines post-lockdown.

China and Allies First

While Singapore, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Hong Kong took the early initiative on travel restrictions and emergency measures, the Philippines was noticeably late to follow suit. Duterte ordered a travel ban only for passengers coming from Wuhan, China specifically on January 31, a day after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the Philippines. A few days later, the ban was expanded to the entirety of China, with the delay, as affirmed by Department of Health (DOH) chief Francisco Duque, attributed to a reluctance to upset relations with China.

Downplaying the hysteria as Filipinos scrambled for protective, medical, and sanitation equipment, Duterte attempted to allay fears in early February, saying there was “nothing really to be scared of.” 

Meanwhile, there was a noticeable rapid decline in supplies of items like face masks. On the day the first case was confirmed in the Philippines, presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo clarified that the government wouldn’t be distributing masks to vulnerable populations as it had none to give out. But a few days earlier, government leaders were touting Philippine generosity in aiding China with a donation of masks worth $1.4 million that were shipped to Wuhan. 

A full month passed before Duterte officially declared the country in a “State of Public Health Emergency” on March 9, five days before the number of confirmed COVID 19 patients breached the 100 mark. A week later, the government announced its initial emergency response package to the virus, totaling $535 million. With hospitals reportedly lacking in personal protective equipment (PPE), the financial stimulus came with disheartening details that half of the amount was intended for boosting the tourism industry and only 11.4 percent was aimed toward the acquisition of testing kits and other materials to curb the virus. 

The World Health Organization (WHO) has urged the mass production and use of testing kits as a basic necessity in combating the pandemic, yet even the DOH on March 20 felt that there was “no need for mass testing yet,” a reminder of how they sorely misread the situation. 

Doctor Josh San Pedro, a co-convener of the Coalition of People’s Right to Health (CPRH), explained to The Diplomat that “health authorities may have been complacent, as it was only in mid-March that significant improvements were made to testing capacity, despite locally-made kits being ready as early as February. With a slashed budget for disease surveillance and epidemiology for 2020, contact tracing was increasingly difficult in Metro Manila for example, one of the world’s most densely populated cities.”

More infuriating for the public was the fact that the department confessed, two days later, to giving preferential treatment and testing to 34 unnamed public officials and their families. The president of PDP-Laban (Partido Demokratiko Pilipino–Lakas ng Bayan), Duterte’s party, Senator Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel III, was among the legislators who tested positive for COVID-19. He subsequently drew flak for violating quarantine protocols to visit his pregnant wife in the hospital, putting all the medical staff at risk. The incident has warranted no probe nor sanction from the authorities.

It wasn’t until April 14 that the DOH commenced mass testing to rectify their earlier errors, but some critics say present efforts are still gravely insufficient. San Pedro adds, “Despite being endowed with tens of thousands of test kits in donations we failed to meet the target of 8,000 tests per day at the end of April. Guidelines for ‘expansion’ of testing were only released on April 16. Majority of testing centers are still in Metro Manila, while only six are located in the provinces. Much is still needed in expanding testing throughout the archipelago, such as increasing testing and quarantine centers to minimize backlogs.”

Even with the DOH announcing that the country is starting to “flatten the curve,” coupled with a new target of 30,000 tests per day by the end of May, there is still some doubt as to whether this is achievable. As of writing, only 0.1 percent of the population has been tested. After analyzing government data, mathematics professor Lex Muga hopes that the target can be achieved but explained that “community transmission has not stopped. When we can see that the number of cases are decreasing daily is when we can assume the curve is flattening. But there are conditions, such as mass testing. DOH data is based on those who are confirmed positive with the virus but it has thousands of backlogs which we don’t yet know the results.”

Since the start of the pandemic, China has maintained a favorable position in the Duterte administration’s eyes. Even with ECQ measures still in place in early May, the government allowed for large-scale gambling with the re-opening of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operations or POGOs, which have a significant Chinese workforce and capital.

Public officials are currently mulling the extension of the lockdown until June 15, which indicates that the country isn’t on the verge of managing the pandemic, contrary to DOH pronouncements. 

However, Dr. Julie Caguiat, also of CPRH, mentioned that there should be a better roadmap to attaining this with “mass testing not only for those with symptoms. But we should be testing for all, not only by priority. Hopefully, there can be random testing in areas that may have bigger concentrations of people.” Caguiat also noted that testing operations should be free (some cost around $60), with clear procedures on contact tracing for all — something that has yet to be undertaken, unlike in neighboring countries. 

What’s Scarier Than the Virus?

In the immediate aftermath of the lockdown, poor Filipinos especially were distraught by the prospect of contending with hunger. With no available sources of income and virtually nonexistent savings, many homeless and slum dwellers bore the brunt of the ECQ. 

On April 1, more than a hundred people from the city slums of Sitio San Roque gathered on a nearby highway to voice their discontent and demand food and aid. Their already poverty-stricken community, like many others, had found it near impossible to deal with having no livelihood or even space to stock up on food in such tight quarters. Twenty-one of the hungry protesters were beaten and arrested by the police. The incident summarily reflected the handling of grievances by the authorities during the lockdown.

The arrests occurred just over a week after Duterte granted himself emergency powers to deal with the pandemic. With newly acquired powers he called for an even stricter implementation of the ECQ. He had a message for anyone who intended to replicate the behavior of the San Roque residents: “I will not hesitate. My orders are to the police and military, as well as village officials, if there is any trouble, or occasions where there’s violence and your lives are in danger: shoot them dead.”

Taking his cue, the police declared they will stop issuing warnings and will simply arrest even low-level violators of the quarantine rules. At a police press briefing in early April, arrests were shown to have spiked during the quarantine, with the cops nabbing an average of more than a thousand people per day nationwide. 

Since then there have been reports and sightings of extreme prejudice in the operations of law enforcement. Stories such as those of a mentally ill Army veteran who was shot dead for being outside and a fish vendor severely beaten for not wearing a face mask have become commonplace. Arrests have also extended to anyone caught criticizing the administration’s perceived failures during the pandemic. Police have begun to target relief workers and even people posting unflattering opinions about Duterte online. The biggest single haul of the crackdown came on Labor Day, May 1. Ninety-two individuals across five cities were imprisoned while either engaging in feeding programs or joining online protests. 

Prominent human rights group KARAPATAN slammed the mass arrests, saying the regime should refocus its efforts. The group’s secretary general Cristina Palabay said, “The Duterte government and its minions [are] exploiting quarantine measures to harass, vilify, and rabidly arrest — even kill — activists. Instead of responding to the socioeconomic needs of the people, these mass arrests will only worsen the plight of the poor. Those who are helping the poor are being put in jail.” 

Palabay pointed to the murder of relief worker Jory Porquia the day before Labor Day by suspected elements of law enforcement as the backdrop of her comments.

In the last week of March, Duterte announced a larger economic relief package of nearly $4 billion, primarily for low-income families, dubbed the Social Amelioration Program (SAP). Plagued by chronic procedural problems in the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), there are constant complaints of the SAP not reaching its intended beneficiaries and the allocations per town being far too small to do much good.

Former DSWD chief and now of the broad network CURE COVID (Citizen’s Urgent Response to End COVID-19) Judy Taguiwalo criticized the use of an outdated census to guide the state’s relief effort. She told The Diplomat, “Limiting the financial assistance to a list based on the 2015 census created major delays in the distribution. They should instead opt for a universal approach, extending financial assistance to everyone in need throughout the process. People are lining up under the heat of the summer sun desperate for assistance. Maybe social workers can go house to house, but they are also lacking PPEs and working long hours. Going to every door also requires a universal approach. The state should welcome the involvement of civil society groups and the private sector in the relief effort and reduce obstacles of various permits for their participation.”

Robert Lunzaga, a community leader in the province of Bulacan from the national urban poor group Kadamay, told The Diplomat that not only were SAP allotments too few for their predominantly impoverished town but those aligned with organizations critical of the administration were bullied by the authorities. He was brought to the local military encampment and told to cease all political activity, surrender to the government, and only then would they receive any aid. Other locals have recounted similar stories. Lunzaga adds, “We have four barangays (towns) in the Pandi municipality, each with more than a thousand poor families. But each barangay has only been allotted around 400 slots for the SAP. Many people are desperate and fighting over aid … just to get $100 to $150.”

To deal with the inadequacies, Congress’ Makabayan (Patriotic) bloc, composed of several opposition parties, has forwarded a bill to expand the SAP in the hopes of reaching out to more Filipinos in need. They particularly noted that 1.7 million workers have been excluded from aid programs. 

“It is reprehensible that while Duterte’s economic managers discuss the need for economic recovery from the COVID-19 fallout. Filipino workers who make the daily operation of transport systems, factories, and malls possible are still largely left out in the government’s aid efforts,” said the coalition in a joint statement. 


The whole world is looking forward to a return to some semblance of normalcy. But what makes the Philippine government one of the worst examples of handling the pandemic is its incompetence married with militarism threaded throughout its responses. The backlash facing Filipinos now and after the quarantine is quite a distressing picture. It is a bleak one marred by a totalitarian streak and the people’s increased realization that the state is more intent on filling jails and the pockets of Chinese businesses than starving stomachs. 


The Philippines now has the highest COVID-19 fatality rate and lowest recovery rate in ASEAN - ANC

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Even as some parts of the country begin moving into lesser restrictions today, our numbers have led to an alarming distinction in the region. BY BENJAMIN CO MD

Infectious diseases and clinical pharmacology expert Dr. Benjamin Co has been thankfully breaking down coronavirus numbers in his personal blog since the outbreak started. The perspective he provides is informative, and comforting in those who are craving for a clear picture of how we are faring against the virus. Dr. Co will share daily updates and analysis of the Department of Health reported numbers with ANCX. 

Refer to the link  or up-to-date data or to (The latter is not a secure site.) The new site for the Department of Health is user friendly, provides more information where a COVID19 tracker is seen. Readers can check their official site where Data Drop for raw data can be found. 

One useful site is COVID19stats, where one can see most of the DoH data in graph format.

The DoH reported 214 new cases, 101 new recoveries, and 11 new deaths. Compared to the global confirmed cases, the Philippines contributes to 0.26 percent of the cases and 0.26 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 in the world.

Some take home messages from the data: 

(1) These three parameters (new confirmed cases, new recoveries, new deaths) are not real-time data. The data provided by the Department of Health is the date of public announcement. Even global data will vary in time of reporting, depending on the capacity of that country. To date, the latency period of the Department of Health on reporting recoveries averages 9 days (with more than 50 percent reported after 8 days and more) and deaths averaging more than 9 days (with around 45 percent being reported after 8 days or more).

(2) Depending on where testing is done, RT-PCR test results take an average of one to two days to process. Barring any delays, all tests done should ideally be released by at least 48 hours (the earlier the better). However, the test results released from government facilities range from three to 14 days, probably due to an overwhelming number of tests being conducted when compared to private hospitals where fewer number of tests done.

The announced new cases, recoveries and deaths are the tally of reported cases of the day.

Comparison of daily new daily cases, deaths and recoveries. There are now 3,378 closed cases

Case fatality rate is up at 6.64 percent (vs 6.65 percent global average vs. 2.34 percent ASEAN average) and recovery rate is slightly up at 20.82 percent (vs. 38.1 percent world average vs. 37 percent ASEAN average) for the day. 

While case fatality rate in the country is slightly lower, it now approaches the global average which has gone down, and we’re doing poorly in terms of death rates with Indonesia being lower at 6.4 percent. We have the highest case fatality rate now in in the ASEAN region. In terms of recovery rate, while we have improved a bit, we are still below the world average. We also have the poorest recovery rate in the ASEAN region. 

On the assumption that majority of the patients who are confirmed cases are either asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic, an important observation is that the recoveries are not being tracked and tested on time. Let us use the duration April 15 to April 30 as an illustrative example. There were 3,287 new confirmed cases. I use the latter half month data in April because that is one full month to look back from today. The average duration of the clinical disease is around 14 days. That would have been enough time to see these 3,287 cases closed by now, either as recoveries or as deaths. For the same duration, a total of 233 deaths were recorded while 748 were considered recovered. That’s a total of 981 cases with outcomes from April 15 to April 30. That leaves us with 2,306 patients still without outcomes for the same duration. Even if we were to presume that severe and critically ill patients take an additional 10 to 14 days more in the hospital, this group of patients reflect <5 percent of the patients with confirmed cases. In short, those recoveries should have been added on to the total recoveries we’ve had today. 

We’re really not testing enough. 

This information is disturbing because we follow a World Health Organization (WHO) definition where in order to classify a person as recovered, one needs to have two consecutive negative tests after testing positive. With testing kits being limited and expensive, a suggestion is to look back at this definition of “recovery”—especially when patients are already asymptomatic and are retested past the third week of infection where the RT-PCR will most likely be negative. 

Asymptomatic patients, or those who had mild symptoms and isolated/quarantined for 15 days and remained well, can probably have only one confirmed negative test to classify them as recoveries. Retesting over and over until these asymptomatic patients test negative past the period of the sensitivity of the RT-PCR becomes futile, and a waste of limited resources just to fulfill a definition criteria.

The case fatality rate of the Philippines closes in on the world average fatality rate. (Note that a few weeks ago the CFR of the world was at 7.75 percent. With more global testing and tracing, there are now less deaths and more asymptomatic cases recorded. Even within the ASEAN region, the average death rate is lower compared to ours and the average recovery rate is higher than the Philippines). 

The figure below shows the trajectory of death rates in the country since the start of the pandemic (date of recording of the first 5th death). It is compared with South Korea to illustrate that while South Korea may have more confirmed cases, they have bent the curve. The Philippines has maintained a plateau with our reports on deaths.

Are we bending the curve? Trajectory of deaths in the Philippines. (compared to South Korea data for illustrative purposes)

Doubling time lets us know the number of days it takes for the confirmed cases (or death rates) to double and can be determined linearly or exponentially. A logarithmic scale is the ideal graph to use. The doubling time in death rates is around nine days. The growth rate of cases is around 2.15 percent (based on the seven-day average).

DOH Reporting

More than half (445 cases) are posthumous results. This is the number of people who died before they were declared positive for SARS-CoV-2.

New cases per day

Of the 214 new cases announced today, all had tagged with their residence information. One hundred forty-seven (69 percent) were from the NCR and 67(31 percent) are from other areas in the country. Region-level data is accurate but cases by city are reported only for those that could be verified. There were quite a handful still for validation as of this report. 

All 17 cities in the NCR had reported cases today: Quezon City (27); Manila (13); Caloocan (10); Parañaque, Taguig and Muntinlupa (6 each); Pasig (5); Pasay, Mandaluyong, Las Piñas, Valenzuela and Makati (2 each); and one apiece for San Juan, Marikina, Malabon, Navotas and Pateros! Fifty five cases were for validation as of this publication. 

There are no reports from Region VII today. 

Other areas with reports include: Rizal (5), Laguna (13), Cavite (3), Batangas (3), Bulacan (2), Nueva Ecija (1), Tarlac (1), Davao City (6), Davao del Norte (2), Zamboanga City (25), Cotabato City (1), and the rest are for validation. 

Among the localities that are alarming is Zamboanga City that has seen a dramatic surge in cases in the past few days (121 confirmed cases to date). Its overall seven-day average growth rate is now almost 13 percent, the highest among all the cities in the Philippines. The death rate in Zamboanga City is 1.65 percent (2 deaths in 121 cases). 

Davao City has also had a few surges the past days with 12 cases reported today making a total of 177 confirmed cases and a case fatality rate of 12.4 percent (22 deaths).

The DoH website update shows the bar graph for daily cases, active cases, daily deaths and daily recoveries. The current trend shows that based on the average number of patients in the last seven days we should be testing the threshold of 250 cases a day, for the next seven days, to see if we’re bending the curve.

As of today, there is no information provided on testing as the DoH is improving its mechanisms and systems. According to their READ ME FIRST information sheet, the DoH assumes no liability for any errors, omissions or inaccuracies in the data and its interpretations as information may change at any time without notice. 

To get in touch with the Department of Health, the COVID hotline is (02)894-COVID loc 1555.

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Philippines GDP shrinks for 1st time in over 2 decades -

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Gross Domestic Product shrinks by 0.2% in first quarter of 2020 amid COVID-19 pandemic

Riyaz ul Khaliq   |

Philippine economy shrank for the first time in over two decades amid coronavirus pandemic, the country’s statistics authority announced on Thursday.

In a statement, the Philippine Statistics Authority said the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) declined by 0.2% in the first quarter of 2020.

“It is the first contraction since fourth quarter of 1998,” the department said.

The Philippines imposed a lockdown in March to stem the spread of COVID-19 in the country thus affecting the businesses.

The statement identified some major economic sectors which witnessed reduced business activities -- including agriculture, forestry, and fishing, industry, and services.

In an online briefing, Philippine Socioeconomic Planning official Karl Kendrick Chua said: “The first quarter, I think, is still respectable given the very difficult environment that we are in. The second quarter might be worse but we are using our policies to proactively manage our trajectory,”

“So that by the second half, we can recover gradually,” he said, according to daily Phil Star.

In March, the Philippines Stock Exchange shut its services for two days amid a global crisis triggered by the spread of fatal coronavirus.

Philippines was the first country to shut financial markets as a preventive measure against the virus.

The country has so far reported more than 10,000 cases of the coronavirus, with 658 deaths.

Last time, the island nation’s economy contracted in 1998 amid the Asian financial crisis. The Philippines lost 3% of its economy in the fourth quarter of that year.


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