Duterte spokesperson corrects ‘misleading’ deck on Philippines’ COVID-19 world ranking

September 21, 2021 - 9:46 AM
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A health worker walks out to get an oxygen tank for a coronavirus disease (COVID-19) patient admitted in the chapel of Quezon City General Hospital turned into a COVID-19 ward amid rising infections, in Quezon City, Metro Manila, Philippines, August 20, 2021. (Reuters/Eloisa Lopez)

(Updated 12:13 p.m.) The Office of the Presidential Spokesperson corrected an error in a table about the Philippines’ ranking among countries affected by the pandemic.

At a briefing Monday morning, the OPS presented a table that showed the country at 9th place among countries with the highest number of total cases worldwide.

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque cited the John Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center as the source for the world rankings.

It bore the logos of RTVM and the Presidential Communications Operations Office which air the announcements and statements from the executive branch of the government.

Screenshot of the graph of  Philippine COVID-19 cases from the Sept. 20, 2021 Palace briefing

Other data points presented were:

  • Active cases: 178,196 – 14th place
  • Cases per 100,000 population: 2,102.73 – 136th place
  • Case fatality rate: 1.55% — 93rd place

Later on the same day, the OPS issued a corrected copy of the Philippines’ placement on the world ranking.

Table from the Office of the President (Facebook/Office of the President)

The photo was uploaded along with other copies of graphs and tables presented during the morning briefing.

This blunder was also corrected on the official PCOO transcript Roque’s transcript which reads:

“Pumunta naman po tayo sa updates sa COVID-19. Ito po ang ranking ng Pilipinas sa mundo sang-ayon po sa Johns Hopkins: Number 18 po tayo sa total cases; Number 14 sa active cases; Number 136 sa cases per 100,000 population; at sa case fatality rate na 1.55% tayo po ay number 93.”

Moreover, the OPS also issued an apology for the error.

“The Office of the Presidential Spokesperson (OPS) wishes to apologize for the error in its presentation during the September 20, 2021 press briefing of Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque,” it was quoted as saying.

“The OPS mistook the country’s ranking in the 28-day cases by Johns Hopkins University as total cases. Hoping for your kind understanding on the matter,” it added.

The OPS was referring to JHU’s 28-day monitoring period of COVID-19 infections in the world.

Within the monitoring period, the Philippines is at the 8th spot with a total of 527,114 cases and 4,978 deaths.

Screenshot of the list of countries affected by COVID-19 via John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center

Meanwhile, in its global daily tracker, as of September 19, the Philippines placed 19th on JHU’s list of countries affected by COVID-19.

Screenshot of the list of countries affected by COVID-19 via John Hopkins University Coronavirus Resource Center

Worldometer, another COVID-19 tracker, similarly showed that the Philippines is at the 18th spot on the list of countries with reported COVID-19 cases in the world.

This was updated on September 20.

Screenshot of Worldometer’s COVID-19 tracker

The Philippines also ranked high in a regional COVID-19 tracker.

According to the tracker by the ASEAN Post, as of September 19, the Philippines also has the highest daily new COVID-19 infections in Southeast Asia with 19,271 new cases for that day.

Editor’s Note: An earlier version of this story bore a headline “Misleading: PCOO deck on Philippines’ COVID-19 cases world ranking.” This has been updated to correct the attribution of the erroneous graph from PCOO to OPS.