MANILA, Sept. 12 (Xinhua) -- The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 257,863 after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 4,935 new daily cases on Saturday.
The DOH said that the number of recoveries also rose to 187,116 after it reported that 659 more patients have survived the disease.
The DOH added that 186 more patients have succumbed to the viral disease, bringing the death toll to 4,292.
Metro Manila topped the five regions or provinces with the highest number of daily confirmed cases reported on Saturday with 2,619, followed by Cavite province, south of Manila, 343; Laguna province, south of Manila, 258; Rizal province, east of Manila, 227; and Negros Occidental province in the central Philippines, 177.
Transport Secretary Arthur Tugade said the government would ease physical distancing rules in public transport starting on Monday to accommodate more commuters as the lockdown measures are relaxed and the economy reopens.
The World Health Organization advised people to keep a distance of at least one meter from each other and avoid spending time in crowded places or in groups, saying physical distancing helps limit the spread of COVID-19.
Tugade added that strict health protocols such as the mandatory wearing of face masks and face shields would continue to be enforced even if the distancing rules are relaxed.
The health department said it had detected virus clusters in the transport system, communities, health facilities, and jails.
Metro Manila and many parts of the country are under varying degrees of quarantine measures since mid-March when the government imposed the initial lockdown to stem the spread of the virus.
Metro Manila, the epicenter of the outbreak, consistently records the highest number of COVID-19 cases since the disease emerged in the country in January.
Metro Manila, located on the main Luzon island, is home to an estimated 13 million people. However, the population swells to about 15 million during weekdays due to the influx of workers and students from outlying provinces of Bulacan, Rizal, Cavite, Laguna, and Pampanga. Enditem