Philippines' confirmed Covid-19 cases tops 300, with 19 deaths
March 21 2020 03:16 PM
A cyclist passes a nearly empty road in Manila
A cyclist passes a nearly empty road in Manila


The Philippines on Saturday reported 77 new Covid-19 cases, bringing the country's total to 307, almost one week into a month-long lockdown on the main northern island designed to thwart the spread of the coronavirus disease.

The death toll from Covid-19 also rose to 19, while the number of patients who have recovered from the disease went up to 13, according to the Department of Health.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergiere said the country has received 100,000 Covid-19 testing kits donated by China, South Korea and Brunei, which will be distributed to various labouratories around the country.

‘But this does not mean that we will be able to test everyone,’ she said. ‘The testing will only be done for patients under investigation or those with severe symptoms, history of travel to countries with Covid-19 cases or close contacts of a confirmed case of Covid-19.’ 

Vergiere said authorities will analyse the trend of infections once the labouratory testing capacities are stabilized, to determine if more stringent measures are needed to fight the coronavirus.

‘We will be able to tell if we are going in the right direction in the measures that we have now, or if they are inadequate or we need to add to them,’ she said.

The island of Luzon - where the capital, Manila, is located - is  home to nearly 60 million people, or half of the Philipines' population. It has been under lockdown since Monday to contain the spread of the new coronavirus.

Under the lockdown, school classes, work, and public transport, including domestic flights, are suspended in Luzon. International flights are allowed to operate, to allow foreigners and overseas Filipino workers to travel out or for Filipinos to return home.

Foreigners are no longer allowed to travel to the Philippines, except those with Filipino spouses and children, after the Department of Foreign Affairs temporarily stopped issuing visas and cancelled previously issued visas.

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