Philippines' COVID-19 cases jump to 552, death toll now at 35

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, March 24) — The Department of Health reported on Tuesday 90 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the country total to 552.

The death toll has risen to 35, while the number of patients who have recovered are now at 20, the DOH said in its 4:00 p.m. bulletin.

Two more elderly patients have died from the coronavirus disease – a 71-year-old Filipino man from Quezon City and a 76-year-old Filipino man from Cavite province.

The first patient succumbed to severe pneumonia caused by COVID-19, as well as hypertensive cardiovascular disease, and dysrhythmia, the DOH said.

The cause of death of the other patient includes COVID-19, heart failure, community-acquired pneumonia, ST-elevation myocardial infarction, and acute respiratory failure.

Meanwhile, two more patients were cleared of COVID-19 on Tuesday – a 21-year-old Filipino man from Davao de Oro and a 76-year-old Filipino man from Quezon City.

DOH said they were discharged from the hospital this week. The first patient has bronchial asthma, while the second has hypertension and diabetes.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III told CNN Philippines earlier in the day that cases are bound to increase as the government expands its testing efforts. Five government laboratories can now test COVID-19 samples.

Worldwide, COVID-19 has killed more than 16,500 people, mostly in Italy, although the outbreak began in Wuhan, China in December last year. Over 381,000 people have been infected, according to the Johns Hopkins University's COVID-19 global tracker.

Eight in ten, or around 80 percent, of infected patients experience "mild illness" and eventually recover from COVID-19, according to the World Health Organization. Some 14 percent experience severe illness while 5 percent were critically ill, the WHO said.

To prevent the spread of the virus, authorities are urging people to wash their hands regulary with soap and water, cover their mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, and avoid close contact with those who exhibit virus symptoms.