Face masks are sold at a mall in Manila, the Philippines, Oct. 13, 2020. The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 344,713 after the country's Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,990 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest increase since Sept. 23. (Xinhua/Rouelle Umali)
MANILA, Oct. 13 (Xinhua) -- The number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines surged to 344,713 after the country's Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,990 new cases on Tuesday, the lowest increase since Sept. 23.
The DOH said that the number of recoveries also rose to 293,383 after 327 more patients recovered. Meanwhile, 40 more patients died from the viral disease, bringing the death toll to 6,372.
The Philippines' capital Metro Manila topped the regions in the country with the highest number of daily confirmed cases on Tuesday with 580.
The DOH said over 3.94 million people in the Philippines have been tested so far. The Philippines has a population of about 109 million.
The government is loosening quarantine restrictions to rev up the economy devastated by nearly seven months of lockdown, Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told reporters in a televised briefing on Tuesday.
He said the Cabinet of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte approved during a meeting on Monday all the recommendations of the economic cluster to increase the capacity of commuters in public transport.
The Cabinet also approved the cluster's recommendations to allow more workers to go out of their homes and to shorten curfew hours as business capacity expands, he added.
Roque said that the government would consider the escalation of the quarantine level only as a last result.
Roque said the Cabinet also agreed on the need to intensify the communication campaign "to inform and educate everyone on how to protect themselves and help prevent the spread of COVID-19, especially at home."
Roque reiterated the need to strictly implement the minimum health standards as the restrictions are eased, including wearing face masks and face shields. He said that no talking and eating policy while in a public transport stays.
The Philippines has been in varying degrees of lockdown since mid-March as it grapples with a steady rise of COVID-19 cases.
The COVID-19 outbreak and lockdown measures led to the contraction of the economy by 9 percent in the first semester of 2020.