DoH reports 16,621 more COVID-19 infections

A DRIVER gets Sinovac vaccine at a drive thru vaccination site dubbed as vaccine express at a parking lot of a mall in Novaliches in Quezon City. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

PHILIPPINE health authorities on Thursday reported 16,621 coronavirus cases, bringing the total to more than two million.

The death toll rose to 33,680 after 148 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 10,965 to 1.84 million, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

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There were 146,510 active cases, 96.2% of which were mild, 1.1% did not show symptoms, 1.1% were severe, 0.99% were moderate and 0.6% were critical.

The agency said 92 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 78 of which were tagged recoveries and one as a death, while 66 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Five laboratories failed to submit data on Aug. 31.

Metro Manila had a daily average of 4,637 coronavirus cases from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1, 12% higher than a year earlier.

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The reproduction number of coronavirus cases in the capital region had fallen to 1.39 from 1.53 a week earlier, the OCTA Research Group from the University of the Philippines said in a report on Thursday.

Metro Manila’s latest coronavirus reproduction number is below the critical cut-off of 1.4, it added.

“Based on current trends, it is possible that the reproduction number in the National Capital Region may decrease to below 1 by the third week of September,” OCTA said. “Until then, we should expect new cases to continue to increase, albeit at a slower growth rate.”

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OCTA said the reproduction number in 11 of 17 areas in the capital region were at critical levels.

The group said Metro Manila’s average daily attack rate was within the critical range at 33.2 for 100,000 people a day.

The attack rate in 14 out of 17 local government units in the region were also at critical levels.

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Metro Manila’s positivity rate from Aug. 25 to 31 was 24%, OCTA said. It added that 69% of the region’s hospital beds had been occupied, while 71% of its intensive care units (ICU) were used.

Meanwhile, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said the government would not enforce a three-week strict lockdown to avoid worsening hunger.

“We are aiming for total health,” Mr. Roque said, noting that the government was trying to minimize critical cases and deaths.

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Some health experts earlier urged the government to enforce a three-week enhanced community quarantine in areas with high coronavirus infections, saying the spike had yet to peak.

BOOSTERS
The country is struggling to vaccinate its entire adult population amid the threats of emerging coronavirus variants.

As of Sept. 1, more than 14 million Filipinos or 18.29% of the Philippine population have been fully vaccinated, Mr. Roque told the same briefing.

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He said the Philippines had received about 52.6 million doses of coronavirus vaccines, more than 32 million doses of which were paid for by the government and about 3.62 million doses were bought by the private sector and local governments.

Mr. Roque said 13.3 million doses were donated under a global initiative for equal access. More than three million doses were donated by various countries, he added.

Also on Thursday, vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said the Philippine government is in talks with four vaccine makers for booster shots that could arrive by the last quarter.

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“We are now negotiating with four manufacturers that can possibly supply boosters either by the end of the fourth quarter or early first quarter,” he told CNN Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III earlier told a House of Representatives committee hearing the Budget department had cut the agency’s proposed P104-billion budget for booster shots next year to just P45 billion.

The budget for the top-up shots would only be funded if the government can raise enough money for it, he added.

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