Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque denied Friday reports that the Philippines is already the new COVID-19 hotspot in Southeast Asia after overtaking Indonesia as the country with the highest number of infections in the region.
On Thursday, the Philippines topped the South East Asian countries in virus cases, overtaking Indonesia, with a total of 115,980 cases as of August 6.
Roque, however, defended that the Philippines already tested 1.5% (1.64 million) of its population of 110 million, while Indonesia only tested 0.34% (908,000) of its population of 273 million.
The Palace official added the surge in COVID-19 cases in the country could be attributed to the government’s aggressive testing and contact tracing efforts.
“Dahil mas maigting ang ating pagti-test, hindi po totoo na mas maraming kaso tayo kaysa sa Indonesia,” he said in a televised briefing.
(Because our testing is more rigorous, it is not true that we have more cases than Indonesia.)
“Hindi lang nalalaman ng mga Indonesian kung sinu-sino iyong mga umiikot na mayroon na pong sakit; at least tayo po, alam natin kung sino na po sila,” he added.
(Indonesians don’t know those walking around who are already sick; and at least us, we know who they are.)
Roque says Philippines not Southeast Asia’s new COVID-19 hotspot
When asked for the basis of his claim, Roque answered, “Hindi ko po alam [I don’t know] how to answer that.”
“Basta ang malinaw lang po sa akin, ang Indonesia po with more or less the same cases as us has 1/3 of the actual testing that we have conducted on our people. Mas marami lang tayong kaso na nalalaman na dito sa Pilipinas dahil nga po three times ang ating testing more compared to the testing done by Indonesia,” he said.
(What is clear to me, Indonesia, with more or less the same cases as us has 1/3 of the actual testing that we have conducted on our people. We only identified more cases here in the Philippines because our testing is three times more compared to the testing done by Indonesia.)
Roque earlier said the surge in COVID-19 cases happens worldwide and not just in the Philippines.
He cited a Nikkei Asian Review report on August 2 that 126 countries and regions or about 70% of the world are experiencing an increase in COVID-19 infections.