A sudden spike in coronavirus fatalities this weekend included deaths that occurred months ago but were reported only recently, a Philippine official said Monday.
Sunday’s toll of 162 deaths was the highest since the pandemic began, followed by Monday when 65 fatalities were recorded, bringing the national tally to 1,599, according to health department figures.
Spokeswoman Maria Rosario Vergeire said that most of the newly recorded deaths were due to late reporting, and predicted that this “data reconciliation” would continue.
“Let me be clear, the 162 recorded yesterday does not mean that they died yesterday,” Vergeire said. “We expect more deaths to be reported in the coming days as a result of our data reconciliation efforts.”
She said that half of the 162 newly reported deaths occurred in July, while the rest happened as far back as April and May.
"The department is the official repository of the data submitted by laboratories, local government units and hospitals. If they have no submission or update, we have nothing to report,” Vergeire told reporters.
Another 2,960 infections were recorded on Monday, bringing the national total to 57,006, the health department said.
Before Sunday, the highest daily death tolls were 50, recorded on April 12, and 46, on July 10.
80,000 by end of July
Dr. Guido David of the University of the Philippines Institute of Mathematics said he foresees the cases of COVID-19 across the country reaching 80,000 by the end of July.
“We can surpass more than 70,000 and more. Our lower estimate is around 80,000 by the end of July,” David said, adding that the surge in infections will come from Metro Manila.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the latest available data do not suggest further relaxation of movement restrictions.
“At this point, the data does not indicate that we can ease the movements in Metro Manila,” Roque said.
The central government previously eased up on rules and has allowed certain public functions to resume in the Metro Manila region even as it remains under a general quarantine. Cebu, in the central Philippines, meanwhile, continues to be under an enhanced quarantine.
Globally, the number of COVID-19 cases is fast approaching 13 million, and deaths surpassed 570,000, according to the latest data compiled by disease experts at U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University.
The Philippines is second among Southeast Asian countries in terms of coronavirus infections and deaths, trailing Indonesia, which on Monday recorded a cumulative case load close to 77,000, and 3,656 deaths.