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Asia Minute: Philippines shifting its approach on COVID-19 case counts

AP Photo/Aaron Favila

As the number of coronavirus cases continues to rise, some countries are shifting their attention from case counts to other measures of community health.

The Philippines’ government is changing the way it reports information about the continuing coronavirus pandemic.

Up to now, the Department of Health has been releasing case updates on social media — but starting next week, those figures will just be posted on its website.

And in a move similar to one already taken by Singapore, the emphasis will be more focused on hospital capacity instead of case counts.

Health officials in Singapore have described that approach as part of treating COVID-19 as less of a pandemic — a rapid spread over a short period of time — and more of an endemic — a condition that’s not fully eliminated but remains in a population at a certain level.

The Straits Times quotes the dean of the National University of Singapore’s School of Public Health as saying that the large amount of asymptomatic cases has made the numbers of new infected patients a relatively less significant figure — a smaller piece of a bigger picture of health conditions.

Singapore was an early mover in tracking statistics beyond new infections.

The country emphasizes not only hospitalization rates, and the number of patients in intensive care units, but also the severity of the cases — including those needing oxygen supplementation for breathing.

Health officials say those metrics help residents focus on information that’s more relevant to the availability of treatment.

Bill Dorman has been the news director at Hawaiʻi Public Radio since 2011.
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