MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines recorded on Tuesday its largest daily increase in coronavirus deaths and infections, as it ramped up testing with the arrival of thousands of kits from abroad and the opening of new laboratories.
Ten more deaths took the toll to 88, while the tally of infections rose to 2,084, with 538 additional cases, said health ministry official Maria Rosario Vergeire.
The ministry has opened new labs and run more than 15,000 tests, a five-fold jump from about 3,000 last week, she said, adding that more hospitals were seeking government approval to function as testing centers.
“We have six more laboratories to conduct tests,” Vergeire said. “We are also conducting contact tracing to find possibly infected persons.”
Philippine hospitals are struggling with a shortage of protective gear, manpower and testing capacity, as are hospitals elsewhere.
The Philippines, the third country after China and Italy to order home quarantine for a large part of its population of 107 million had until recently reported fewer cases than expected, with many deaths.
Authorities had attributed that to a lack of testing kits and lab capacity.
President Rodrigo Duterte has put retired generals among his cabinet in charge of the task force battling the crisis, saying its management requires military-style discipline.
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Reporting by Neil Jerome Morales and Karen Lema; Editing by Andrew Heavens and Clarence Fernandez