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Philippines posts lowest daily tally in 17 months


By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

THE PHILIPPINES logged 425 coronavirus infections on Tuesday — the lowest daily tally since June 2020 — bringing the total to 2.83 million.

Tuesday’s tally was the lowest since July 2, 2020, when 294 infections were recorded, according to the Worldometer website, citing various sources including data from the Department of Health (DoH) and World Health Organization (WHO).

The death toll hit 48,545 after 44 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 909 to 2.77 million, DoH said in a bulletin.

There were 15,800 active cases,47.5% of which were mild, 5.3% did not show symptoms, 16% were severe, 24.42% were moderate and 6.8% were critical.

The agency said three duplicates had been removed from the tally, two of which were reclassified as recoveries, while 40 recoveries were relisted as deaths.

It added that 63 cases were found to have tested negative and have been removed from the tally. Two laboratories did not operate on Nov. 28, while four laboratories failed to submit data.

DoH said 26% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate for Metro Manila was 25%.

The Philippines gave out about 2.55 million doses of coronavirus vaccines on the first day of its three-day immunization drive, Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje told a televised news briefing.

This was 2.5 times higher than the weekly average of a million vaccinations, she said. It puts the country in fifth spot worldwide in terms of jabs given out in a single day, she added.

Ms. Cabotaje said the Calabarzon region had the highest inoculation rate, followed by Central Luzon, Western Visayas, Central Visayas and Bicol.

“The President has an order to vaccinate everyone,” Ms. Cabotaje said in Filipino, referring to President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s proclamation declaring the three-day National Vaccination Days. She cited reports that some walk-in citizens had not been vaccinated.

“Our directive is to allow walk-ins,” she said. “No one should go home without receiving a shot.”

The Philippines aims to fully vaccinate 54 million people by the end of the year. Pandemic authorities originally aimed to inject 15 million shots during the vaccination campaign that runs from Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.

Still, the target could be a record in a country that had struggled to inoculate its people due to vaccine hesitancy, supply issues and various logistical hurdles.

On Monday night, the presidential palace said an inter-agency task force had approved a plan to keep Manila, the capital and nearby cities under Alert Level 2.

All provinces in the country have been placed under Alert Level 2 except Apayao, which is now under Alert Level 3.

The government announced the quarantine levels, which take effect on Dec. 1 to 15, after it tightened border controls to prevent an outbreak of the Omicron variant, which authorities said has had several mutations.

The Philippines has suspended inbound flights from South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Zimbabwe, Lesotho, Eswatini and Mozambique, Austria, the Czech Republic, Hungary, the Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium and Italy.

It also suspended a plan to allow the entry of fully vaccinated foreign travelers from Dec. 1-15.

The Omicron variant has yet to be detected in the Philippines, but health experts have said its entry is only a matter of time.

The latest coronavirus variant could pose a greater threat than the Delta variant, which has been causing surges worldwide, according to the World Health Organization. “This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning,” it said on its website.

Meanwhile, the palace said the Philippines could still hit its target of 4-5% economic growth target this year despite the Omicron threat.

“We are confident of hitting our economic growth targets,” Cabinet Secretary Karlo Alexei B. Nograles told a televised news briefing in mixed English and Filipino.

“Barring any unforeseen circumstances, so long as our cases, average daily attack rate and positivity rate continue to decline and a safe reopening of the economy is implemented, then we are confident that we will reach our growth targets,” he added.

Economic managers in August slashed their growth target for the year to 4-5% from 6-7% after fresh lockdowns were imposed to contain a Delta-fueled spike in coronavirus infections.

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