Philippines posts record daily COVID-19 cases

THE PHILIPPINES reported 18,332 coronavirus infections on Monday, the highest daily tally since the pandemic started last year.

This brought the total to 1.86 million, 7% or 130,350 of which were active cases, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

The death toll rose to 31,961 after 151 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 13,794 to 1.7 million.

Of the active cases, 94.8% were mild, 2.5% did not show symptoms, 1.2% were severe, 0.92% were moderate and 0.6% were critical, the agency said.

DoH said 321 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 316 of which were recoveries. Sixty-eight recoveries were tagged as deaths. Three laboratories did not submit data on Aug. 21.

The Health department also reported 466 new cases of the Delta variant, bringing the total to 1,273. It said 442 were local cases, 14 were returning migrant Filipino workers and 10 were still being verified.

One patient was still active, eight have died, while 457 have recovered, it said.

Meanwhile 90 more people have been infected with the Alpha coronavirus variant first detected in the United Kingdom, bringing the total to 2,322.

The agency said the country now had 2,588 cases of the Beta variant after 105 more Filipinos got infected with the virus first detected in South Africa.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said the highly contagious Delta coronavirus variant was now roaming freely in Metro Manila and Southern Tagalog, the country’s two most populous regions.

“It seems like there is already a community transmission,” she told a virtual news briefing in Filipino, adding that they need more evidence to officially declare a community transmission.

A community transmission occurs when there is a clustering of cases and there are no links between the cases, Ms. Vergeire said, citing the World Health Organization.

Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Cynthia P. Saloma earlier said the Delta variant had become dominant.

Health workers have threatened to resign en masse as more hospitals get overwhelmed by a fresh surge in infections.

The Health department said it would get P311 million from its contingency fund to pay for the special risk allowance of more than 20,000 health workers.

Meanwhile, the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the emergency use of the single-dose vaccine made by Russia’s Gamaleya Research Institute of Epidemiology and Microbiology, it said.

Russia’s Sputnik Light coronavirus vaccine was approved for emergency use on Friday, FDA Director General Enrique D. Domingo said in a Viber message.

Sputnik Light, a recombinant human adenovirus vaccine, was 79.4% effective against the coronavirus when it was first used in Russia in May.

It was given as part of Russia’s mass vaccination program from Dec. 2020 to April 2021, according to the Russian Direct Investment Fund. The single-dose vaccine must be stored at temperatures of 2-8 degrees Celsius.

The vaccine is different from the two-dose Sputnik V, which was approved for emergency use in the country in March.

The coronavirus vaccine made by Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Pharmaceuticals is the other single-dose shot being used in the Philippines. 

More than 30 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been given out in the Philippines, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said.

More than 13 million people or 12% of the Philippine population have been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, he told a televised news briefing on Monday.

Three-quarters or 7.4 million residents of the capital region’s 9.8-million population have received their first dose, while 43.5% have been fully vaccinated, Metro Manila Development Authority chairman Benjamin de Castro Abalos, Jr. told the same briefing.

“By the end of the month, we could easily reach 50% of the eligible population,” he said.

Mr. Abalos said more local governments in Metro Manila, including Mandaluyong, San Juan and Pateros have begun to open their vaccination program to nonresidents.

Of 21,765 active coronavirus cases in Metro Manila, 70% or 15,130 were unvaccinated, he said.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte last week relaxed the lockdown in Metro Manila after placing it under an enhanced community quarantine for two weeks until Aug. 20.

The increase in Metro Manila’s coronavirus cases was 48% two weeks ago and 72% three weeks ago, the OCTA Research Group from the University of the Philippines said on Sunday. The seven-day positivity rate was 22%.

Health authorities have said the effects of the strict lockdown in the capital region would not be felt immediately. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza

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