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Philippines worse than Indonesia? No worries, says Palace

PhilStar Global logo PhilStar Global 8/7/2020 Sheila Crisostomo
a person holding a bag of luggage: Philippines worse than Indonesia? No worries, says Palace © Edd Gumban Philippines worse than Indonesia? No worries, says Palace

MANILA, Philippines — There’s no cause for concern regarding reports that the Philippines has overtaken Indonesia as the Southeast Asian nation with the highest number of coronavirus infections, presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said yesterday.

At a briefing, Roque expressed belief that the Philippines’ increased testing capacity has allowed it to identify and record more cases compared to Indonesia.

“What’s clear to me is Indonesia, with almost more or less the same cases as us, has one-third of the actual testing that we have conducted on our people,” he said.

Roque said the comparison has no basis and is not conclusive since the Philippines has tested three times more than Indonesia.

Confirmed cases in the Philippines reached 119,460, with 3,561 new recorded cases as of Aug. 6.

Based on the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS)’s COVID-19 tracker, Indonesia has recorded a total of 118,753 cases. It also posted the highest number of COVID-19 deaths among Southeast Asian countries at 5,521.

For Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire, there is a need to put into context the number of cases reported by the two countries, like their references to population and health systems.

“The number of our population, settings, health systems are different. When we try to benchmark with other countries, that’s OK… We have to interpret with caution,” she said.

Vergeire said Singapore, for instance, could have lower incidence because of its smaller population and land area.

“So far, we have recorded more cases even in communities, and we are now at 1.6 million of population that has been tested already,” she said.  “And that is really, I think, highest in Southeast Asia compared to other countries.”

Interior Secretary Eduardo Año said there’s even reason to be glad as the country is faring better in the fight against COVID-19 than other countries like the United States, Brazil and India.

Año added that no country can actually claim success in fighting COVID-19. He said other countries that appeared to be winning like Japan, Vietnam and Singapore, had to resort again to lockdown due to the emergence of new cases.

“Nobody can say it’s over until a vaccine is developed. While there is still no vaccine, no country could claim success,” he said. — Romina Cabrera

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