DoH reports 11,000 more coronavirus cases

By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 11,085 coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 1.78 million.

The death toll rose to 30,623 after 161 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 11,628 to 1.64 million, it said in a bulletin. 

There were 105,151 active cases, 96% of which were mild, 1% did not show symptoms, 1.3% were severe, 0.91% were moderate and 0.7% were critical.

The agency said 265 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 259 of which were recoveries. Seventy-four recoveries were tagged as deaths. Nine laboratories failed to submit data on Aug. 16.

Meanwhile, health authorities said the government would prioritize the housemates of seniors and seriously ill people for vaccination.

Under the policy, one housemate would be allowed to get a coronavirus vaccine shot, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told a virtual forum on Wednesday.

The vaccination strategy was adopted as the country struggles to inoculate its entire adult population amid a fresh spike in coronavirus infections believed to be triggered by the highly contagious Delta variant.

Ms. Vergeire also reiterated that experts do not yet recommend that children get vaccinated against the coronavirus.

Vaccinating people as young as 19 could deprive eligible people higher in the government’s priority list, she said.

Older and seriously ill people who are more likely to die from the coronavirus should be prioritized, Ms. Vergeire said. She added that vaccinating vulnerable adults would also protect children and other people from getting infected.

People should use surgical masks in areas that are experiencing a spike in infections, she said, citing the World Health Organization.

Medical-grade masks offer better protection against the coronavirus because they are designed to filter organisms in the air, she said. Those who can’t afford to buy surgical masks could still use cloth masks, she added.

In a related development, vaccine Czar Carlito G. Galvez said supply issues had delayed the approval of multi-party deals between the government and entities seeking to buy coronavirus vaccines.

The agreements for the purchase of vaccines made by Moderna, Inc., AstraZeneca Plc and Janssen Pharmaceuticals have been either put on hold or left unsigned because the state is no longer accepting vaccine orders for now through these deals, he said in a statement.

Senator Juan Miguel F. Zubiri earlier asked the chamber to look into why the vaccine order requests of 42 local government units and about 300 private companies have been left unsigned.

Mr. Galvez said Sinovac Biotech Ltd., Pfizer, Inc. and Russia’s Gamaleya National Center of Epidemiology and Microbiology “intend to prioritize the orders of the National Government given current supply constraints.”

He added that Novavax, Inc.  had yet to receive an emergency use authorization from the Food and Drug Administration.

The vaccine made by India’s Bharat Biotech International Limited had yet to be approved by the Health Technology Assessment Council, and the government is worried about potential overpricing, he said.

Local governments must “face the reality that vaccine makers are still not able to produce at a level that would meet the requirements of all nations,” Mr. Galvez said. “The issue is not just about having the resources to procure the vaccines but its limited supply in the world market.” 

A more contagious Delta coronavirus variant has worsened the pandemic situation in the Philippines, with 16% of its hospitals nearly full, Fitch Solutions Country Risk and Industry Research said this week.

Of 1,291 hospitals in the country, more than 200 have reached critical levels amid a fresh surge in infections spurred by the Delta variant from India, it said in a report.

Twenty-five of 159 hospitals in Metro Manila, which is under a strict lockdown from Aug. 6 to 20, are also nearly full, it added.

The slow vaccine rollout and setbacks in containing the pandemic would delay the country’s goal of achieving universal healthcare, it added.

Ms. Vergeire on Tuesday said coronavirus infections nationwide increased by 45% in the previous week.

The spike was being felt in the National Capital Region, Central Luzon, Southern Tagalog, Western Visayas and Central Visayas. Rising infections were being experienced across all age groups, she added.

There was a 74% increase in infections among children aged up to nine years, and a 60% increase among kids aged 10 to 19 years, she said.

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