Senator Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday the lockdown in Metro Manila may have to be extended until June 2020 as the health department has yet to report all confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the country entirely.
“The [health experts] say that the substantial results of the research for developing a vaccine for COVID-19 may come in June at the earliest,” Lacson said in a radio interview.
“If that will be our basis, I cannot see how we can lift the lockdown earlier than June,” the senator added.
Lacson also called out the Department of Health’s daily report on the decreasing number of infected patients to be misleading. He said the number of COVID-19 testing conducted each day is not enough to reflect the actual rate of new coronavirus infection.
“The DOH is only saying the numbers of deaths, recoveries, and patients who tested positive for [the coronavirus]. The information is not sufficient. So their report is misleading,” he said.
“While it [is] not intentional, we are being misled into believing that the [people] positive for the virus are just [more than] 7,000. I don’t think so. The number could be more than that,” Lacson said.
As of April 26, the Philippines recorded a total of 7,579 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the DOH reporting 285 additional cases.
However, the DOH did not clarify whether the new cases were part of the testing backlog or if these results returned positive during the same period.
Meanwhile, the DOH also reported seven new deaths, increasing the toll to 501 while 70 more patients survived the disease, raising the number of recoveries to 862.
Last week, Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), the country’s first and biggest COVID-19 testing center, scaled down its operations after 43 of its staff tested positive of the disease.
RITM Director Dr. Celia Carlos said they are uncertain as to where their employees acquired the disease if it is from the RITM or the community.
Fortunately, the RITM resumed its full operations now. Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said on Sunday that the infected employees now recovered, and none was in the hospital, but two were still in quarantine.
The RITM could process 1,500 to 2,000 COVID-19 tests per day.