DEATHS due to confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (Covid-19) nearly doubled in just six months of 2021 compared to the entire 2020, pushing this highly contagious disease to become the fifth leading cause of death in the Philippines based on preliminary data released by the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA).

Probable and suspect Covid-19, meanwhile, accounted for the ninth highest number of deaths registered with the local Civil Registrar offices for the period.

More people died this year from various diseases, PSA data showed. A total of 361,480 people died from January to June 2021, around 25 percent higher than the registered deaths of 289,260 in the same period in 2020.

The PSA lists both confirmed and probable Covid-19 cases based on the descriptions written on the medical certificate portion of the death certificate.

The Department of Health (DOH), on the other hand, reports only the confirmed Covid-19 cases through its surveillance system. For January to June 2021, there were 15,418 deaths due to Covid-19 based on the DOH case bulletins. As of August 22, 2021, the Covid-19 death toll in the country was 31,810.

At the PSA, registered Covid-19 deaths are classified into those caused by Covid-19 virus identified and Covid-19 virus not identified.

Covid-19 virus identified are those supported by laboratory test results, while Covid-19 virus not identified, refer to probable and suspect cases as well as those that were clinically-epidemiologically diagnosed as Covid-19.

Deaths by Covid-19 virus identified reached 17,160 in the first six months of 2021, almost double the 9,300 recorded by the PSA in the entire 2020 and around 11 percent higher than the DOH figure for the same period.

Covid-19 virus identified jumped 14 slots to become the fifth leading cause of death in the first half of 2021 from 14th in the entire 2020, after ischemic heart disease (56,760), cerebrovascular disease (30,800), neoplasm or cancer (27,340), and diabetes mellitus (19,800).

Covid-19 virus not identified caused 9,590 deaths so far this year, nearly half of the 20,840 deaths reported in 2020. It ranked lower at ninth in the first half of this year compared to seventh in the entire 2020.

The total Covid-19 deaths recorded by the PSA was 26,750, 73 percent higher than the 15,418 listed by the DOH from January to June 2021 and 8.8 percent of the total PSA registered deaths in the first half of this year. If taken together, Covid-19 caused more deaths than diabetes mellitus and just 590 fewer mortalities than cancer.

Among the 17 regions, four registered over 1,000 deaths due to Covid-19, according to the PSA.

The National Capital Region (NCR) registered the highest at 9,980, or 37.3 percent of the total Covid-19 deaths from January to June 2021.

It was followed by Calabarzon with 6,080 deaths (22.7 percent), Central Luzon with 4,300 (16.1 percent) and Cagayan Valley with 1,200 (4.5 percent).

On the other hand, the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao reported the least number of registered Covid-19 deaths with 11 cases.

Other top leading causes of mortality in the first half of this year were hypertensive diseases, pneumonia, other heart diseases and chronic lower respiratory infections. (Marites Villamor-Ilano / SunStar Philippines)