COVID-19’s third quarter storm

Updated as of September 21, 2020, 6PM (Manila Time)

The Philippines

[Disclaimer: Whatever is written here is based on information released by the Department of Health at the time of publication. Whatever changes the DoH makes in their data later on…well that’s a different story in itself and as they say in their disclaimer: “the total cases reported may be subject to change as these numbers undergo constant cleaning and validation.”]

Philippines Total as of September 21, 2020: 290,190 cases

  • Total new cases announced today: 3,475
  • Recent cases (September 8-21, 2020): 2,648 (76 percent only)
  • Backlogs (March to September 7, 2020): 827 (with the majority occurring from July to September 7).
  • Active cases 54,958 (up) with 4.5 percent (2,474 cases) severe or critical.
  • Even the top 5 regions had significant backlogs being reported today, with three of the five in the top five having less than 80 percent recent data (NCR, Region IVA and Region VI)
  • Region VII is back in the top five regions with highest cases and Cebu province lands in the fifth place among provinces with highest cases
  • Most deaths today were from NCR and 8 of the 15 occurred in September.
  • Number of testing facilities: 129 (99 RT-PCR labs, 30 GeneXpert labs)
  • Total individuals tests: 3,191,229 (2.9 percent of population or 30,668 tests per million population)


Testing capacity as of September 19, 2020

The summary as of September 20, 2020

  • Total number of confirmed cases: 286,783
  • Total cases: 3311 newly reported (2,774 recent or 83.8 percent from September 7-20, 2020)
  • Region with highest number of cases: NCR – 1,435 total (1,182 recent)
  • Top regions (with more than 100 cases): NCR, Regions IVA, III, VI, and VIII.
  • Regions with single digit report: Cordillera Administrative Region
  • Repatriates: 13 new cases (Total: 11,551).
  • Unidentified on a regional level: 6 cases. (Total unknowns [regional]: 4,797)

The unknowns (Cases with NO TAGGED LOCATIONS)

Total unknowns: 20 (0.6 percent down from 3.5 percent the day before).

  • Regional level: 6
  • Provincial level: 4 (3 from CALABARZON, 1 from Zamboanga Peninsula)
  • City/Municipality level: 10 (4 from Camarines Sur, 3 from Cavite, 2 from NCR and the rest from other provinces in the country)

The known (Top 5 Regions)

  1. NCR
  • Manila, Quezon City, Caloocan and Marikina had three digit cases reported
  • All the other cities had less than 100 cases


  • The cities of Calamba and Cabuyao in Laguna had the most cases with 68 and 60 cases, respectively.

3. Region III (Central Luzon)

  • While the province of Bulacan registered the most cases, it was the city of Olongapo in Zambales that registered the highest number of cases on a city/municipality level.

4. Region VI (Western Visayas)

  • The city of Bacolod in Negros Occidental reported the highest number of cases on a city/municipality level in the region. The city alone owned 169 of the 309 cases (55 percent). This is significant because 97 percent of the cases in the region are recent.

5. Region VIII (Eastern Visayas)

  • With 95 percent of the cases in Eastern Visayas considered recent, Catbalogan in Western Samar continues to lead among the cities/municipalities in the region.
  • 7-day average of new cases as of September 20, 2020: 3,650 cases/day (lower)
  • 7-day average of new deaths as of September 20, 2020: 88 deaths/day (lower)


  • Global case fatality rate: 3.09 percent
  • Global recovery rate: 73.1 percent
  • The United States of America has surpassed 7 million cases today
  • India continues an upward trajectory. Although there were slightly less cases reported, it continued to report the most cases and deaths yesterday.
  • Brazil has significantly reduced the number of reported cases and continues to sustain the decline.
  • As in every weekend, the cases and deaths reported are significantly less (as if the virus sleeps over the weekend…but we will see the surge a day or two later when those weekend numbers pile up and get reported).
  • India continues to top the list with 87,382 cases.
  • France continues its rising number of cases with 10,569 cases overnight. Israel is back in the top ten with 4,300 cases.
  • India reported the most deaths at 1,135 yesterday.
  • Mexico had more deaths reported than Brazil and USA (but I have a feeling this is an under reporting from the part of many countries as it is a weekend and is not a reflection of the true fatality rates there)
  • While Indonesia reported only 105 deaths, it still landed 8th in rank in deaths from COVID-19.

The Reproduction Number (Rt)

It will always be an amazement, if not amusement, to me at how the Health Agency cherry picks the data that it wants to announce. For example, for reproduction number reported today is not recent. We know for a fact that we’re really not faring better, yet they selectively choose to announce data as of September 6, 2020 (excuse me if that’s the only one available from your end, but surely you know how to check other sites that compute for the Rt of the Philippines).

I don’t understand why their comparator is a Rt of 2-3 and the DoH puts it in its heading as global Rt. In reality, the Rt can be any number. No one said that it is 2-3, but the supposed estimates are anywhere around that. Places like Mayotte, France have a Rt of 3.82.

Various countries have their own Rt – with other countries doing better while others doing worse. For example, Luxembourg has a recent Rt of 1.94, while Zimbabwe at 0.45.

The comparator should always be the week before.

The consistency of other sites that provide information on how the Philippines is doing in terms of reproduction number (Rt) should serve as reference for the agency. In short, there is more recent data and more recent information. Why does the health agency provide data two weeks ago today and yet when it comes to other parameters like fatality, positivity and doubling time, provide more recent information?

I’m sorry if I can only think of one reason.

Because it is a Monday. And someone in the palace needs to get impressed, because he doesn’t understand the data anyway. Someone will probably parrot the data – and those that do not understand it – will swallow it hook, line and sinker.

So much for transparency and reliability.

11 thoughts on “COVID-19’s third quarter storm

  1. lordmychef July 1, 2020 / 10:35 pm

    Doc Benjie, a huge thank you for all uyour efforts explaining things to us. And this is a welcome change, your new page of your covid tracker. I am no good with math but with the way you explain things especially your interpretations really help me so much. and definitely a lot of others out there. I am worried that this government especially the DOH has no plans at all of managing or doing something about the spread of the covid19. They seem to be bent on going to hell! And we do not want to go with them… what can be done? by the public? we in the church? We cannot count on this government….


    • kidatheart July 1, 2020 / 10:37 pm

      I am as frustrated as you are. Sometimes I get to think how real the devil is in our midst because evil survives and thrives.


  2. Jenny Ko August 9, 2020 / 6:51 pm

    Thank you for all your work. They should be paying your handsomely for all this and I wish they would listen to you


  3. RIA Garcia August 14, 2020 / 8:08 pm

    Does it mean that the MECQ did not have an effect on lowering down the number of cases? Or should we wait for the number of new cases after aug 18?


    • kidatheart August 18, 2020 / 8:01 am

      We will see the effect of MECQ after 2 weeks. But I have doubts if it will make an impact because the numbers are quite high already.


      • Edna Aquino August 24, 2020 / 9:31 am

        May we have the official DOH source please. Thanks.


  4. Jose Garcia September 22, 2020 / 11:14 am

    When there is a report of deaths because of COVID-19, does this mean that the person actually die because of the virus? Or there is underlying disease? In the past months, deaths because of COVID-19 did not include existing disease, causing fear that the virus is that severe. That it can kill even without existing sickness. Is this true?


    • kidatheart September 22, 2020 / 11:41 am

      Most of the patients with co morbidities will not die of the pre existing health condition. Unfortunately, COVID is more severe among those with immunologic problems. Compared to healthy patients with no immunologic problems, Covid is usually mild or asymptomatic. Sadly, like all infectious diseases (not only Covid), the mortality and morbidity is higher in those with underlying health problems. And the virus is the cause of the complications and demise of the patients.


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