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Philippine senator doubts lifting of lockdown before June

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MANILA (Philippine Daily Inquirer) — The government’s stay-at-home order in Metro Manila and other parts of the main island of Luzon may have to be imposed until the middle of this year as the Department of Health or DOH has yet to fully account for all people infected with the new coronavirus, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday.

“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,” he added.

Lacson also played down the claim of the DOH that the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the Philippines is decreasing, saying the number of tests being done every day is not sufficient to show the actual rate of transmission of the highly contagious virus.

“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 added.

“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,” he said.

As of Sunday, the Philippines had 7,579 confirmed coronavirus cases, with the DOH reporting 285 additional cases, 183 more than the 102 reported on Saturday.

The DOH, however, did not explain whether the additional cases were people who caught the coronavirus during the last 24 hours or tests from its backlog whose results returned positive during the same period. Without an explanation, it is hard to say whether the virus is spreading as the DOH may just be reducing its backlog.

The DOH said seven more patients had died, raising the toll to 501. But 70 more patients had recovered, the DOH said, pushing the number of survivors to 862.

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