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Experts: Actual Covid-19 cases in the Philippines around 9,000

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MANILA (The Philippine Star) — The number of actual Covid-19 cases in the Philippines could be much higher than the current tally of confirmed infections due to under-reporting, as well as asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases, according to researchers from the University of the Philippines.

In a policy report released Wednesday night, the UP experts said that "there could as many 9,000 people" carrying the virus that causes Covid-19 as of Sunday.

They observed a wide gap in the age distribution of confirmed cases in the Philippines, with those aged 65 up representing about a fifth of Covid-19 patients.

“On the other hand, more than 50% of the population is from 0 to 24 years of age, but they represent only 8% of Covid-19 cases in the Philippines,” read the Wednesday report.

“This discrepancy suggests there is potentially some number of Covid-19 cases that are asymptomatic (no symptoms present), mildly symptomatic (only lesser symptoms like lack of taste), or unreported. Based on data from South Korea, the number of asymptomatic cases may be around 30%.”

Mass testing and contact tracing were recommended to identify "an unknown number of asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases" who could potentially spread the coronavirus.

“There is the danger that asymptomatic cases may act as super spreaders of Covid-19. Mass randomized testing and contact tracing will help determine the actual number of cases, including asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases, and will help control the spread of Covid-19 by identifying and tracking the silent spreaders of the disease.”

The Philippines' first lab-confirmed novel coronavirus case was an asymptomatic woman who arrived in the Philippines on January 21 from China’s Wuhan province.

As of Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Health reported 6,710 cases of Covid-19 in the Philippines, with the national death toll reaching 446. The health department also confirmed 693 total recoveries in the country.

Data from John Hopkins University showed that more than 2.6 million people in the world have contracted the infectious disease. Global death toll rose to 183,120 as of Thursday.

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