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Virus cases top 362,000; Red Cross debt to be paid

virus cases top 362000 red cross debt to be paid - Virus cases top 362,000; Red Cross debt to be paid

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 1,509 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 362,243.

The death toll rose to 6,747 after 60 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 911 to 311, 506, it said in a bulletin.

There were 43,990 active cases, 83% of which were mild, 11.6% did not show symptoms, 2% were severe and 3.4% were critical.

Rizal province reported the highest number of cases with 83, Cavite with 82, Manila with 66, Baguio City with 65 and Iloilo City with 57, the agency said.

Metro Manila had the highest number of new deaths with 23, followed by the Calabarzon region with nine, Western Visayas with eight, and Ilocos, Central Luzon, Bicol and Central Visayas with three each.

Zamboanga Peninsula and the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) reported two deaths each, while Eastern Visayas, Northern Mindanao, Soccsksargen and the Cordillera Administrative Region reported one death each.

More than 4.1 million people have been tested for the coronavirus, DoH said.

Meanwhile, the presidential palace called on the Philippine Red Cross to resume its reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing services chargeable to the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth), promising to pay half of the state insurer’s debt by next week.

The Red Cross halted its coronavirus testing services after PhilHealth failed to pay P900 million of its outstanding debt. It said it did not have the funds anymore to continue the tests.

Presidential spokesman Harry L. Roque told CNN Philippines the government would prioritize paying PhilHeath’s debt to the Red Cross.

“The President has already committed to PhilHealth that it will be paid, and so I think it will be paid if not this week, then next week at the soonest,” he said.

On Monday, President Rodrigo R. Duterte pledged to pay the PhilHealth debt. Mr. Roque said Red Cross Chairman and Senator Richard J. Gordon should trust the President’s word.

“I think that assurance should be enough for Red Cross to resume its testing,” he said.

Mr. Roque said the Red Cross plays a crucial part in the Philippines’ expanded COVID-19 testing, accounting for a quarter of total tests.

Mr. Duterte earlier said he would look for the money to settle the debt to the Red Cross, which conducted a million coronavirus tests, or about a fourth of the Philippines’ 3.8 million tests.

Mr. Gordon earlier said PhilHealth should be investigated for its failure to pay its debt. The Senate earlier investigated corruption at the agency and endorsed graft charges against top officials. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Gillian M. Cortez

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