Over 2,600 more coronavirus cases raised the overall count in the Philippines above 316,000 on Friday, putting it among the top 20 worst-hit countries in the world.

A total of 2,611 infections were recorded in the Philippines over the past 24 hours, taking the total to 316,678, according to the Department of Health.

At least 56 more COVID-19 patients died in the country, raising the death toll to 5,616, while recoveries increased by 416 to reach 254,617.

There are 56,445 active cases in the country, the department said.

Meanwhile, the case count in the southern autonomous Bangsamoro region climbed to 1,176, according to regional authorities.

At least 46 patients have died in the Muslim-majority region, while the number of active cases stands at 240.

The Philippines, which has the most COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia, has enforced one of the longest virus lockdowns anywhere in the world.

Despite the rising cases, Maria Rosario Vergeire, the country’s health undersecretary, said things “have improved” over the past few months.

“[…] This ranking across the globe, this would be because the totality of number of cases. But when we look at our active cases, recovery rate, our case fatality rate and our health system capacity, we see that we have improved,” she was quoted as saying by daily The Philippine Star.

The Filipino economy has also suffered heavily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which has now claimed over 1.02 million lives around the world.

According to the World Bank, the country’s economy may contract by 6.9% in 2020.

“Growth is now projected to significantly decelerate this year due to the impact of the COVID-19 outbreak, including through the slowdown in trade, investment, tourism, remittances, and social distancing – including the associated community quarantine,” the bank said in a recent overview.

It said the Philippines’ economic growth is expected to rebound by 5.3% to 5.6% in 2021-2022 as “global conditions improve, and with more robust domestic activity bolstered by the public investment momentum and a boost from 2022 election-related spending.”

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