The health department of the Philippines vowed on Sunday to update its plans against the coronavirus or COVID-19 within a week and sought to increase up the healthcare workforce in the capital Manila, where the medical frontliners are calling to revive the strict lockdowns.

The Southeast Asian nation on Saturday confirmed 4,963 additional COVID-19 infections, the biggest single-day rise on record, taking the total number of reported cases to 98,232 while the death toll climbed to 2,039.

It has the second-highest number of coronavirus infections and COVID-19 deaths in the region, behind Indonesia. In the largest call yet from medical experts to contain the virus, 80 groups representing 80,000 doctors and a million nurses, on Saturday said the Philippines was losing the fight against the disease and warned of a collapse of the healthcare system from soaring infections without tighter controls.

COVID-19 in Philippines

Coronavirus
Workers of Junjiang Industrial Limited Company produce medical masks in Yilong New District at Bouyei-Miao Autonomous Prefecture of Qianxinan in southwest China's Guizhou Province, Feb. 21, 2020. Medical supply companies in Yilong New District have been producing medical supplies at full capacity to support the fight against the novel coronavirus, or COVID-19. (Xinhua/Yang Wenbin/IANS) Xinhua/IANS

In a statement issued following an unscheduled meeting late on Saturday of the government's coronavirus task force to address the concerns of doctors and nurses, the Department of Health said it would come up with an updated COVID-19 strategy within seven days.

It appealed to healthcare workers in the provinces and those returning from abroad to help beef up the frontline workforce in the capital, and sought help from universities and medical groups in hiring more doctors, nurses, and other medical staff. The government appears reluctant to revive strict curbs on movement in the capital, saying there are other ways to control the spread of the disease.

Still, the health department said it supports the healthcare workers' call for a "timeout" and would "proactively lead the implementation of effective localized lockdowns". "The battle is not over, and it will not be for a long time yet," the department said in a statement. But "we will marshal all our efforts to turn the tide."

(With agency inputs)