Philippines records 984 fresh COVID-19 cases

People visit the SM By the Bay at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City on November 19, 2021. As Metro Manila eases age restrictions and increases venue capacities in malls, NCR mayors have endorsed limiting the mobility of minors to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as they believe it is in the best position to decide on the matter. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

People visit the SM By the Bay at the Mall of Asia grounds in Pasay City on November 19, 2021. As Metro Manila eases age restrictions and increases venue capacities in malls, NCR mayors have endorsed limiting the mobility of minors to the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) as they believe it is in the best position to decide on the matter.

MANILA (UPDATE) – The Philippines on Monday announced 984 fresh COVID-19 cases, the second time in the last seven days that the daily tally fell below 1,000, data from the health department showed. 

Of the 2,826,853 total recorded cases, 19,798 or 0.7 percent were active infections, according to the latest Department of Health (DOH) bulletin. 

The number of new cases is the lowest in 6 days or since Nov. 16 when 844 were reported, the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group said.

It also noted that the last time the country’s active cases counted fewer than 20,000 was on Jan. 10 this year. Monday’s tally of active infections is the fourth lowest this year, after 19,304 were recorded last Jan. 4.

COVID-related deaths increased by 218 to 47,288, while 2,229 more recoveries were reported, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,759,767.

The number of deaths reported is the highest in three days, while the number of recoveries is the lowest also in three days, according to the research group. 

A total of 447 duplicates were removed from the overall case count, including 434 recoveries and four deaths, while 94 cases were found to have tested negative, according to the DOH.

It added that 169 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after final validation.

The positivity rate was at 2.8 percent, based on test results of samples taken from 35,901 individuals on Nov. 20, Saturday.

The World Health Organization’s benchmark for positivity rate is 5 percent or lower for at least two weeks. A relatively high rate means more people should be tested for the coronavirus.

Two laboratories were not operational last Saturday while three laboratories, which contribute on average 2.7 percent of samples tested and 2 percent of positive cases, were unable to submit their data, the DOH said.

The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide was at 31 percent and 32 percent, respectively. 

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said it remains to be seen whether the increase in new COVID cases reported on Sunday indicates a change in trend.

The DOH announced 2,227 additional infections that day, the highest since Nov. 10.

If an uptrend in fresh COVID cases is eventually seen, Duque said it could be attributed to increased social mobility.

“The uptick in cases yesterday is not a trend, just a day’s worth of reporting… Normally, the way we measure this is anywhere from 1 to 2-week growth rate,” Duque said.

“We are waiting for a trend. One day data will not give you the full picture… Antayin natin (Let’s wait),” he added.

“Assuming magkaroon ng pagtaas (there’s an increase in cases) in the next few days, the reason for this could be increased social mobility. We’re down to Alert Level 2, and we have expanded capacity… 50% indoor capacity,” Duque noted.

The Philippines on Monday began administering additional doses and booster shots to the elderly (A2 category) and immunocompromised individuals. 

The rollout for the rest of the A3 category or persons with comorbidities has yet to be announced pending the recommendation of the WHO’s Strategic Advisory Group of Experts, said Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire.

The government aims to vaccinate 15 million individuals during the 3-day nationwide vaccination program from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1, Vergeire added.

It also began Monday the nationwide implementation of the 5-step Alert Level System, placing Catanduanes under the second-highest level.

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