Politics

Philippine COVID cases in past week hit 28,000 — DoH

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PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

THE PHILIPPINES posted 28,008 coronavirus infections in the past week, with a daily average of 4,001 cases, the Department of Health (DoH) said on Monday.

The daily average from Aug. 8 to 14 rose by 3% from a week earlier, it said in a bulletin.

DoH said it had verified 229 deaths in the past week, 98 of which occurred from Aug. 1 to Aug. 14. Of the new cases, 101 were severe and critical.

It said 719 of 2,571 intensive care unit (ICU) beds had been used as of Aug. 14, while 6,781 of 21,968 non-ICU beds were occupied. There were 882 severe and critical admissions, it added.

The government has fully vaccinated 72.1 million people, 17 million of whom have received booster shots, the agency said.

Meanwhile, P10 billion worth of coronavirus vaccines were wasted, or 8.4% of the total, Senator Ana Theresia Hontiveros-Baraquel told a Senate hearing.

“At this rate, by October, the Philippines will have breached the [10%] wastage threshold set by the World Health Organization,” she said. In June, about 4.7% of coronavirus vaccines expired.

“Our vaccine program is leaking billions of pesos, both of which we sorely need for reopening our economy,” the senator said. “Figuring out what is driving the vaccine wastage should be top priority.”

Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said a global initiative for equal access to coronavirus vaccines had agreed to replace all expired vaccines as long as these don’t expire again.

The vaccines either expired, were opened but not used or got spilled, she told the hearing.

Meanwhile the Education department would let unvaccinated teachers in classrooms, Undersecretary Revsee A. Escobedo told a news briefing. “We will allow them to report and teach provided that they still need to follow the minimum public health protocols like wearing of face mask. Classrooms should also have proper ventilation.”

The coronavirus has affected school operations in the country since 2020. The new school year will start on Aug. 22, with more schools expected to implement face-to-face classes.

Mr. Escobedo said 37,000 teachers remained unvaccinated. About 20,000 of them have committed to get vaccinated.

Also on Monday, the Private Sector Advisory Council said President Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr. had accepted its recommendations for the country’s healthcare system including promoting public-private partnerships (PPPs).

“The proposals made by the members of PSAC’s health group are focused on improving the nation’s healthcare system through closer collaboration between the government and private sector,” the group led by Aboitiz Equity Ventures, Inc. President and Chief Executive Officer Sabin M. Aboitiz said in a statement.

Strengthening partnerships between the government and the private sector “will start addressing the most pressing health issues of Filipinos in the first 100 days of the administration.”

Ms. Vergeire and officials of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. were also present during discussions “and provided support and guidance,” the council said. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza and Alyssa Nicole O. Tan