VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Sonza misinterprets DOH data on new COVID-19 cases in NCR

Read this fact check in Filipino

Former broadcaster Jay Sonza inaccurately interpreted the government's daily bulletin on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) when he claimed that Metro Manila experienced a stark increase in confirmed cases in just 24 hours.

This is the fourth time Sonza has been flagged by VERA Files Fact Check for spreading disinformation on social media.


In a Facebook post uploaded on May 17, a day after the government eased lockdown restrictions in the region from an enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) to a modified ECQ, Sonza said:

“24 Hours lang tumaas ng 83% ang Covid19 cases sa Metro Manila says DOH. expectedly (Within only 24 hours, COVID-19 cases in Metro Manila have risen to 83%, says DOH. Expectedly)!”

Source: Jay Sonza official Facebook account, 24 hours lang…, May 17, 2020

In the comment section, he said the “data is off the daily [COVID-19] positive report,” of DOH, which showed the increase in cases in the National Capital Region (NCR) "day to day," posted on May 16.

He made the same claim on his Twitter account.


Sonza is wrong; the rate of increase in the total number of confirmed cases in NCR from May 16 to May 17 is less than 2.20 percent, far from his claim of 83 percent, data from the DOH COVID-19 tracker show.


The “83 percent” Sonza was pertaining to in the May 17 DOH bulletin is not the rate of increase in Metro Manila, but rather the region’s share of new confirmed cases, which was 174, with respect to the country’s total of 208 at the time.

The DOH daily bulletins posted on its official Facebook account shows the shares by percentage of new recorded cases per region. As of May 19, the NCR constituted 78 percent, or 174, of the 224 new confirmed cases in the Philippines.

Sonza’s Facebook post has been shared at least 8,000 times and has garnered over 8,300 likes and reactions as of May 19.

The implementation of the modified ECQ signaled the partial reopening of some industries and business establishments, such as malls, subject to safety protocols, and is part of the government’s efforts to “revitalize” the country’s economy amid the COVID-19 crisis. (See VERA FILES FACT SHEET: Understanding 'community quarantine' and 'social distancing' policies)

However, reports of alleged violation of physical distancing and other safety measures in public places, specifically malls, caused the Palace to call for compliance to prevent new infections.

According to the World Health Organization, the time between exposure to COVID-19 and the onset of symptoms “commonly takes five to six days but can range from one to 14 days.”

As of May 19, 12,942 people in the country have been confirmed to be infected by the new coronavirus, with 837 deaths and 2,843 recoveries. As of May 18, more than 4.6 million people have been infected since the COVID-19 pandemic started in Wuhan City, China.

Editor's note: This article has been updated to reflect what appears to be a correction in the DOH COVID-19 tracker, which now shows there were 8,095 total confirmed cases in Metro Manila as of May 17. The earlier version of this article said there were 8,096.


Jay Sonza official Facebook account, 24 hours lang…, May 17, 2020

Jay Sonza official facebook account, Untitled, May 17, 2020

Jay Sonza Twitter account, 24 hours lang..., May 17, 2020

Department of Health, COVID-19 Tracker, Detailed Case Information, NCR, Total Cases, Accessed May 19, 2020

Department of Health, COVID-19 Daily Bulletin 64, May 17, 2020

Department of Health, COVID-19 Daily Bulletin 63, May 16, 2020

Department of Health, COVID-19 Daily Bulletin 66, May 19, 2020

Office of the Presidential Spokesperson, On the quarantine transition – Presidential Communications Operations Office, May 17, 2020

Reports of alleged health protocol violations

World Health Organization, Situation Report 119, May 18, 2020

World Health Organization, Q&A on coronaviruses (COVID-19), Accessed May 18, 2020

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative and our methodology.)


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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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