Sunday, 20 September 2020

Philippines has highest rise in coronavirus cases in Western Pacific

The Philippines leads the rise in COVID-19 cases throughout the Western Pacific region, data from the World Health Organisation (WHO) reveal. 

From 16 to 27 June, the archipelago recorded 8,143 confirmed new infections. The Philippines is way ahead of 22 countries in the region, with Singapore coming in second with only 2,351 new cases. China, which placed third, recorded 302 infections.

In terms of infection numbers, the Philippines has the third highest total with 34,803 as of 27 June. This number is behind only China with 83,500 cases and Singapore with 43,246. 

Fatalities have also been high in the Philippines in proportion to its infections, coming in second in the region with a death toll of 1,236. China and Singapore had reported 4,634 and 26 deaths, respectively.

China and Singapore have been aggressive in testing their respective populations for the disease. The Philippines, meanwhile, continues to struggle to broaden its testing capacity months after the pandemic reached the country.

The recent surge in cases is attributed to the Philippines’ easing of lockdowns and increase in testing capacity, which remains limited to targeted swabbing.

On 28 June, the Philippines’ Department of Health (DOH) said that “the comparison made with Singapore and other countries requires a deeper understanding of population ratio versus number of cases.” The Philippines has a population of 109 million, while Singapore only has 5.9 million.

In updated statements, the DOH noted that the situations in the two countries differ greatly, especially in the socioeconomic context prior to the pandemic. Living conditions and health system capacities are not the same in both nations, said the health agency.

“Please take that into account when we do our analysis. Let us not cherry pick the countries we want to compare ourselves to,” the DOH said.

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