Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 2
Cases have gone down in Cebu in the past week—but so has testing. Photo from Mayor Edgardo Labella's Facebook account

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined?

During the surge of cases in Cebu in April, they were testing around 500 a day. On May 13, 14, and 15, they did 266, 88, and 28 tests, respectively. BY BENJAMIN CO MD
ANCX | May 18 2020

Infectious diseases and clinical pharmacology expert Dr. Benjamin Co has been thankfully breaking down coronavirus numbers in his personal blog since the outbreak started. The perspective he provides is informative, and comforting in those who are craving for a clear picture of how we are faring against the virus. Dr. Co will share daily updates and analysis of the Department of Health reported numbers with ANCX. 


Refer to the link  or up-to-date data or to (The latter is not a secure site.) The new site for the Department of Health is user friendly, provides more information where a COVID19 tracker is seen. Readers can check their official site where Data Drop for raw data can be found. 

One useful site is COVID19stats, where one can see most of the DoH data in graph format.

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The DoH reported 205 new cases, 94 new recoveries, and 7 new deaths. Compared to the global confirmed cases, the Philippines contributes to 0.26 percent of the cases and 0.26 percent of the deaths from COVID-19 in the world.

Disclaimers on the data: 

(1) These three parameters (new confirmed cases, new recoveries, new deaths) are not real-time data. The data provided by the Department of Health is the date of public announcement. Even global data will vary in time of reporting, depending on the capacity of that country. To date, the latency period of the Department of Health on reporting recoveries averages nine days (with more than 50 percent reported after eight days and more) and deaths averaging more than nine days (with around 45 percent being reported after eight days or more). 

(2) Depending on where testing is done, RT-PCR test results take an average of one to two days to process. All tests done should ideally be released within 48 hours (the earlier the better). However, the test results released from government facilities take around three to 14 days, probably due to an overwhelming number of tests being conducted as compared to private hospitals.

The announced new cases, recoveries and deaths are tally of reported cases for the day.

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 3

Comparison of daily new daily cases, deaths and recoveries. There are now 3,560 closed cases

Case fatality rate is down at 6.53 percent (vs 6.58 percent global average, vs. 2.43 percent ASEAN average) and recovery rate is slightly up at 21.5 percent (vs. 38.7 percent world average, vs. 39.9 percent ASEAN average) for the day. 

With less deaths reported today, the case fatality rate of the Philippines approaches the global average, which has gone down.

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 4

Outcomes of resolved cases

When it comes to resolved cases, the Philippines ranks 131 out of 146 countries in terms of recoveries-to-closed cases ratio. We have 3,560 closed cases, 77 percent of which are considered recovered while 23 percent had died. Our data shows how poorly we fare on both recoveries and deaths when compared to the global average.

Globally, the Philippines slightly improved in ranking to number 25 in death rate (6.53 percent CFR from number 23 yesterday), but remained in 131st spot for recovery rate (21.5 percent).

The figures below show the trajectory of death rates in the country since the start of the pandemic (date of recording of the first 5th death). Currently the doubling time for deaths on the logarithmic curve is approximately every nine days. The Philippines has maintained a plateau with our reports on deaths.

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 5
Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 6

Are we bending the curve? Trajectory of deaths in the Philippines, which is compared to South Korea’s data for illustrative purposes.

Doubling time lets us know the number of days it takes for the confirmed cases (or death rates) to double and can be determined linearly or exponentially. The seven-day average daily growth rate is down to at 1.98 percent.


DOH Reporting

More than half (452 cases) are posthumous results. This is the number of people who died before they were declared positive for SARS-CoV-2.


New cases per day

Of the 205 new cases announced today, all were tagged with residence information.  One hundred forty-nine (73 percent) were from the NCR, 48 (23 percent) from other areas in the country, and 8 (4 percent) from Region VII. Region-level data is accurate but cases by city are reported only for those that could be verified. There were quite a handful still for validation as of this report. [Disclaimer: the numbers are different from the report of the DOH COVID-19 Bulletin #65 after going through the detailed case information of the website of the DoH.]

In the NCR, 95 of the 149 cases are for validation as of this writing. The remaining 50 cases are from: Pasig (18), Valenzuela (10), Navotas (9), Mandaluyong (8), Quezon City (5), Manila (3), and Malabon (1).

Region VII has 8 cases from Cebu City. 

Other areas with reports include: Laguna (1) with all other data for validation in repatriates (26), CAR (1), Western Visayas (1), Ilocos Region (1), Bicol Region (2), Zamboanga Peninsula (16).

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 7

New daily cases, death and recoveries

The DoH website update shows a bar graph for daily cases, active cases, daily deaths, and daily recoveries. Based on the average number of patients in the last seven days, we should be testing the threshold of 225 new confirmed cases daily next week to see if we’re bending the curve. (This is based on a 10 percent decrease in the average cases for this week.)

Testing Capacity

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 8

Figure 5. Testing capacity as of May 15, 2020. 

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 9

Figure 6. Daily tests conducted as of May 15, 2020. 

The figures above show the testing capacity and daily tests conducted as of May 15, 2020 based on the DoH website. A total of 224,673 tests have been conducted so far in 207,823 unique individuals. Of these individuals, 8.1 percent (16,822) were positive while the remaining 82.4 percent were negative. Based on the testing data, this would mean that, on average, in every 100,000 tests done, at least 8000 would be positive (whether they are new confirmed cases or retests done in patients who were previously positive and needed to get retested). 

It is interesting to analyze Figure 6. We see a large decline in testing at the Vicente Sotto Memorial Medical Center with only 266 tests done on May 13, 88 tests done on May 14 and 28 tests done on May 15. The total confirmed cases reported on these respective dates May 13, May 14 and May 15 were 47, 11, and 1, respectively. During the surge of cases in Cebu since end of April, VSMMC was doing more than its maximum capacity of 500 tests a day (see the dark green bars). The sudden decline in cases is proportional to the decrease in tests as well. Based on the remaining available kits left for VSMMC (Figure 5), can we deduce that the number of cases in Cebu has now really gone down?

Are new COVID cases in Cebu really going down, or has testing declined? 10

To get in touch with the Department of Health, the COVID hotline is (02)894-COVID loc 1555.


Global statistics

Update as of 8PM 18 May 2020 (Monday)


TOTAL DEATHS: 316,860 (case fatality rate: 6.58 percent)

TOTAL RECOVERED: 1,863,381 (case recovery rate: 38.7 percent)

Total cases worldwide

Note that every reference has its own cut-off time for reporting. For the global data, WorldOMeters is used as its reference.

The total confirmed cases has passed the 4.8 million mark. The average trend in the past week has averaged 100,000 new confirmed cases daily with more testing being done worldwide. At the current growth rate at least one million new confirmed cases may be registered every nine to 10 days. This means there is a high probability that the five million mark will be reached on or before May 19, 2020. 

Total number of recoveries worldwide closes in to the 1.9million mark with significantly greater recoveries than deaths. 

The United States of America continue to lead globally in the number of total confirmed cases at 1,527,664 with a case fatality rate (CFR) of 5.96 percent with 90,978 total deaths recorded. The recovery rate for the US is up at 22.7 percent. Among the states, New York leads almost 359,847 total confirmed cases and 28,325 total deaths with a CFR up at 7.87 percent. More almost 12 million tests have been done as of yesterday (35,903/M population). 

Russia now is second with 290,678 total confirmed cases, 2722 total deaths (0.94 percent CFR), and 70,209 total recoveries (24.15 percent). 

On the other hand, Cambodia has not seen a new case for the last month and reported its last patient recovering. The country has 100 percent recovery rate with no deaths reported. 

The median average of case fatality rates worldwide is lower at 6.62 percent. From the current data for the past two to three months, around 80 to 90 percent of patients are either asymptomatic or recover unremarkably. Almost 98 percent of the currently infected (active or positive) cases are mild or asymptomatic. 

As of this writing, of the 2,131,695 closed cases, 85 percent (1,818,236) have recovered or discharged while 15 percent (313,459) died. 

Recoveries far outnumber the deaths with a ratio of approximately 6:1.