MANILA (UPDATE) — Confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines continue to inch closer to 150,000, a threshold forecast supposedly to be reached by the end of this month, with 4,002 additional infections reported on Thursday.
The country's cumulative total stands at 147,526, with 74,713 tagged as active cases or those still infected with the disease.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said earlier in the day that the spike in cases is still driven by community transmission.
The Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,403 additional recovered patients or a total of 70,387 recoveries.
There are also 23 additional COVID-related deaths, mostly from the National Capital Region (10) and Region 4A (5). The rest are from Region 7 (3 fatalities), CAR (3), Region 9 (1), and Region 10 (1).
Majority of the recently-added deaths happened in August (13), while 6 were in July.
The death toll climbed to 2,426.
So far, there are more active COVID-19 cases in the country, compared to the combined tally of recoveries and fatalities.
The DOH removed 225 duplicate cases from the previous tally, including 12 tagged as recovered and 1 death.
“Moreover, one case that was previously reported to have recovered has been validated to have died and already included in the count of new deaths,” the DOH said.
According to ABS-CBN Data Analytics Head Edson Guido, the number of confirmed cases for August is on pace to exceed the cumulative number of infections from January to July, which is nearly 93,000.
The Philippines has been logging record-high numbers in terms of new COVID-19 cases since late July, following the easing of quarantine measures and the gradual opening up of the economy.
“We have observed that the cases right now or the infections are being identified in specific areas in the country in the communities. The number of clustering in the communities are increasing,” Vergeire said in an ANC Headstart interview.
However, she also claimed that other factors such as returning overseas Filipinos, locally stranded individuals and expanded testing capacity are pushing the numbers up.
She assured the public that authorities are already doing “active case finding” in communities.
“That is why there are a lot of individuals being identified as positive right now,” she said.
On Wednesday, the DOH reported 69 additional COVID-19 areas of clustering, bringing the total to 1,107.
The newly identified areas of clustering include 17 in NCR, 17 in Region 4A, and 13 in Region 5. There are also 4 each in Regions 7, 9 and 2; 3 each in Regions 3 and 6; and 2 each in Region 10 and 8.
Researchers from the University of the Philippines and the University of Santo Tomas have estimated that the country's COVID-19 cases may reach 150,000 by the end of August. The forecast hasn't been updated yet.
The Philippines' first confirmed COVID-19 case, involving a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where the outbreak originated, was reported on Jan. 30.
Since the start of the pandemic, 20.6 million people have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard. Of those, almost 750,000 have died and 12.8 million have recovered.