PH COVID-19 death rate within ‘acceptable’ limit, says Duterte spokesman

<i>Photo: Levi Clancy / Unsplash</i>
Photo: Levi Clancy / Unsplash

The coronavirus fatality rate in the Philippines is supposedly considered “acceptable” by the international health community, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque claimed today.

Roque, who is not a doctor, also told news talk show The Source that the surge of coronavirus cases in the country could be attributed to the virus’ increased transmissibility. The Philippines yesterday recorded at least 6,300 COVID-19 cases, its highest to date.

Read: Duterte scolds health experts for trying to ‘demean’ gov’t, claims they’re ‘not doing anything’

“It’s not as if it’s just happening in the Philippines. There’s a report by Nikkei reporting that 75% of countries in the world have reported spikes [in COVID-19 cases] lately. Now we have not confirmed if this has happened in the Philippines, but there are reports that the virus has mutated and it has become far more infectious than it was,” Roque said, without offering scientific proof to back up his assumption.

Though some health experts have found mutations in the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19, virologists remain skeptical and have yet to unanimously agree if this means that the virus has become more infectious.

Roque, meanwhile, pointed out that a large majority of recorded infections are mild or asymptomatic, which result in far fewer deaths in the country.

The Philippines has logged 2,115 deaths as of yesterday. In comparison, neighboring countries like Malaysia has recorded 125 deaths, Thailand tallied 58 fatalities, and Vietnam logged 8. But never mind those glaring numbers because Roque has percentage rates.

“An overwhelming 98.5% of the cases continue to be asymptomatic or mild, so although there are deaths, we are keeping the deaths to a minimum. We’re way within the threshold of [a] 5% mortality rate considered as acceptable by the international community. We’re at two-point-something [percent] right now as far as mortality rate is concerned,” Roque said.

Read: PH Health Dep’t ramps up contact tracing 5 months after start of COVID-19 pandemic

Despite the spokesman’s explanation, several private and public hospitals have declared full capacity after experiencing a deluge of critical and moderate COVID-19 cases. As a consequence, exhausted health workers had urged the government to reimpose the strictest quarantine over parts of the country, saying that they needed a “time out.” They also said that the Duterte administration had to come up with a more effective strategy in curbing the spread of the coronavirus.

In response, a modified enhanced community quarantine was re-imposed in Metro Manila and several nearby areas, but a fuming President Rodrigo Duterte accused the health workers of planning to revolt against him and of “demeaning” his government.

Meanwhile, Roque claimed in his interview that the government will provide more ICU beds in public hospitals to meet the needs of critically ill patients. He added that the government is expanding testing and contact tracing, but did not detail specific targets or deadlines.


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