Politics

Philippines reports another record low in COVID cases at 168

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PHILSTARFILE — EDDGUMBAN

THE HEALTH department reported 168 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, the lowest one-day tally since May 22 last year when 163 cases were recorded, although 20 laboratories failed to submit data in the aftermath of typhoon Rai, locally known as Odette.

Four laboratories did not operate on Dec. 19.

The Philippines now has a total 2.84 million coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases.

The death toll hit 50,794 after 10 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 372 to 2.78 million, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin.

There were 9,384 active cases, 508 of which did not show symptoms, 3,289 were mild, 3,406 were moderate, 1,804 were severe and 377 were critical.

The agency said 95% of the reported cases occurred from Dec. 8 to 21. The top regions with cases in the past two weeks were Metro Manila with 47, Calabarzon with 27, and Western Visayas with 16.

It added that 60% of the reported deaths occurred in December, 20% in November, 10% in August, and 10% in May.

DoH said 179 cases had been removed from the tally, which were reclassified as recoveries, while six cases previously tagged as recoveries were relisted as deaths.

The agency said 22% of intensive care units in the Philippines were occupied, while the rate for Metro Manila was 21%.

Meanwhile, inoculation activities are continuing and the DoH said on Tuesday that it has reached half of its seven-million target under the second round of the national vaccination drive against COVID-19.

The Bayanihan, Bakunahan 2 program was originally set on Dec. 15 to 17, but areas in the path of typhoon Odette moved their schedule to Dec. 20 to 22.

From Dec. 15 to 20, there were 3.76 million jabs administered, Health Undersecretary Myrna C. Cabotaje said in a news briefing on Tuesday.

Of these, about 2.1 million were for second dose, 1.1 million first dose, and 289,000 booster shots.

About 10 million jabs are still needed before the government hits its 54 million target by the end of the year.

Ms. Cabotaje said they are still optimistic that the goal will be reached despite challenges in carrying on with the vaccinations in typhoon-hit areas.

We have increased the vaccination target for areas that are currently able to vaccinate, she said, and lowered the number for those struggling due to the typhoon.

CHILD IMMUNIZATION

The DoH also announced that it has stepped-up its programs to increase the coverage rate of fully-immunized children.

Government data show immunization coverage in 2020 among infants and children was 3.9% lower than in 2019 as many parents were hesitant to bring their children to health centers for fear of exposing them to COVID-19.

“DOH is committed to protecting every child against vaccine-preventable diseases,” Beverly Lorraine Ho, director of the DoH-Health Promotion Bureau, said in a statement.

She said they are coordinating with the National Vaccine Operations Center to dedicate days to catch up with immunization activities for children. — Alyssa Nicole O. Tan