The Philippines on Thursday surpassed Indonesia to become the Southeast Asian nation with the most number of confirmed COVID-19 cases, based on official data. Metro Manila and surrounding provinces are on the third day of a strict quarantine aimed at slowing infections and recalibrating the pandemic-fighting strategy.
The Department of Health tallied 3,561 new cases on Thursday, bringing the total to 119,460. Indonesia has 118,753 cases as of late afternoon of the same day based on data posted on its Health Ministry website.
Among new measures, the Philippines will increase traced contacts of COVID-19 patients to around 37, shift to the more conclusive RT-PCR tests instead of rapid tests, increase the hospital bed allocation for COVID-19 patients , build more isolation facilities, and commence human trials on the Japanese-made anti-flu drug, Avigan. On Thursday, it opened and a command center for Metro Manila hospitals.
Starting on Aug. 15, face shields will also be required on top of face masks when riding public transport where it is allowed, thats General Community Quarantine and Modified General Community Quarantine areas.
The Philippines and Indonesia are among the worst hit by COVID-19 in the region. Indonesia's population is nearly thrice that of the Philippines and is the most populous Muslim nation on the planet.
Its neighbors, Thailand and Vietnam, have had relatively more success in containing the virus that has killed some 700,000 people globally, according to an Agence France-Presse tally.