MANILA (Reuters) – Coronavirus testing is expected to increase substantially in coming days in the Philippines, where the high number of deaths relative to confirmed cases reflects lower testing so far, a World Health Organisation official said on Tuesday.

The coronavirus death toll in the Philippines rose to 78 on Monday – the second highest in Southeast Asia outside Indonesia – with 1,546 reported infections.

“With respect to the high proportion of deaths in the Philippines, that’s essentially because of the way Philippines has chosen to test,” WHO technical advisor Matthew Griffith told a news conference, referring to the focus on testing only the most severe cases until now.

“We expect the testing to increase substantially in the coming days.”

(Writing by Matthew Tostevin; Editing by Robert Birsel)