By Corina Oliquino

MANILA — The Department of Health reported more than 1,200 new COVID-19 cases daily from July 3 to July 12.

On July 8, the Philippines reported a record-high 2,539 new cases and in the past 10 days alone, the number of new infections breached the 2,000 mark four times.

DOH Undersec. Maria Rosario Vergeire said 766 is the average number of daily new cases per day by date of onset of illness while 1,571 is the average number of daily new cases by date of reporting.

“We are experiencing an increase in the number of positive cases due to increase in testing and the identified community transmission. The increase has been gradual and our health system is able to cope with the increasing number of cases,” Vergeire said.

In a report by GMA News, the Philippines has 85 licensed laboratories which have tested 926,252 individuals.

Vergeire also attributed the rise in cases in the growing number of clusters of community transmission, noting the reproduction number, which refers to the average number of people that one COVID-19-positive individual can infect, was at 1.23 as of June 22.

“Bahagyang tumaas po ito kumpara sa naiulat natin noong nakaraang linggo na 1.09 as of June 17, ngunit ito po ay dahil mayroon tayong nakitang pagtaas ng bilang ng mga kaso,” she said.

Vergeire noted that it was also a “good indication” that case doubling time has increased to 8.18 days as of July 12 compared to 7.97 as of July 03.

As of July 13, the Philippines recorded 57,006 COVID-19 cases with 20,731 recoveries and 1,599 deaths.

New COVID-19 czars

In another report by ­GMA News, Malacañang through presidential spokesperson Harry Roque introduced new COVID-19 czars tasked to implement the country’s test, trace, and treat strategy as virus cases rise.

Dubbed by Roque as “Philippine anti-COVID czars” the officials included National Task Force Against COVID-19 Deputy Chief implementer Vince Dizon (chief testing czar), Baguio City Mayor Benjamin Magalong (chief tracing czar), Public Works and Highways Sec. Mark Villar (chief isolation czar) and Health Undersec. Leopoldo Vega (chief treatment czar).

“Ang ating istratehiya sa matinding pagsubok ng COVID-19, mas malawak ang targeted testing, mas maraming isolation centers, mas matinding tracing at mas matinding treatment para sa mga nagkakasakit,” Roque said.

“Lahat po iyan sa ilalim ng NTF, sa Ilalim ng ating Chief Implementer (Carlito) Galvez,” Roque added.

In another report by Rappler, Magalong said he will improve the country’s contact tracing system by introducing skills training on two fronts by conducting proper ways of questioning patients and by using the government’s new “contact tracing e-system” capable of collecting data from contact tracing efforts.

Gusto ko lang pong banggitin sa inyo na radically ay babaguhin po natin iyong structure ng ating contact tracing system. Ang itatawag po natin diyan is iyong contact tracing ecosystem. It’s a partnership between health workers at iyong ating pong law enforcement investigators,” Magalong said.