MANILA, Aug. 12 (Xinhua) -- The number of confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines surged to 143,749 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,444 new daily cases on Wednesday.
The DOH said that the number of recoveries further rose to 68,997 after it reported 636 more patients having survived the disease.
The death toll also increased to 2,404 after 93 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, the DOH added.
Metro Manila topped the five regions or provinces with the highest number of daily confirmed cases reported on Wednesday with 2,618, followed by Laguna province 233; Cavite province 227; Rizal province 174; and Bulacan province 129.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that COVID-19 cases in the Philippines started to surge in the later part of June when the country eased lockdown restrictions.
"That is expected when you open the other sectors of the society," Vergeire told reporters in a virtual media briefing.
Aside from easing the restrictions, she said the government also expanded its COVID-19 testing capacity.
"We are not just testing the symptomatic but we are also testing the people who we also considered as high risk so the testing capacity increased as well as the number of people who get tested also increased," she added.
"It is a recognized fact that there is a community transmission. We are seeing this in different parts of the country, especially in these regions. Community transmission is really the cause of the spike of cases," she said.
The Philippine government reimposed a two-week strict lockdown on August 4 in Metro Manila and the outlying provinces of Laguna, Cavite, Rizal and Bulacan.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said the government is "exerting double time in building more isolation facilities not only in Metro Manila but also around the capital (in an effort to) free up hospital bed wards."
In addition to having a reliable system of referrals with the setting up of the so-called "one hospital coordination center", Roque said the government is also rushing to add more intensive care unit (ICU) beds in hospitals.
Roque also confirmed that 50 percent of public school classrooms in the National Capital Region (NCR) will be used as temporary quarantine facilities as negotiated and agreed by both the Department of Education and the Department of Health.
"Resumption of face-to-face classes is set in January 2021, if and when a vaccine and (or) medicinal drug is expected to be produced," Roque said.