Politics

Philippines posted 8,000 coronavirus cases in past week, says Health dep’t

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PHILIPPINE STAR/ RUSSELL PALMA

THE PHILIPPINES posted 8,004 coronavirus infections in the past week, with a daily average of 1,143 cases, according to health authorities.

The daily average from Nov. 14 to 20 fell by 12% from a week earlier, the Department of Health (DoH) said in a bulletin. Of the new cases, two were severe and critical cases.

DoH said it had verified 93 new deaths in the past week, 21 of which occurred from Nov. 7 to 20,

It said 493 of 2,358 intensive care unit (ICU) beds had been used as of Nov. 20, while 4,796 of 20,754 non-ICU beds were occupied. There were 568 severe and critical admissions, it added.

Meanwhile, more than 31 million shots of COVID-19 vaccines worth P15.6 billion were wasted, Health officer-in-charge Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told ABS-CBN Teleradyo.

About 24 million doses expired due to a short shelf life while 7 million got wasted because of high temperature, or the vials were opened and not used, she said.

Almost 70% of the 31 million shots were bought by the private sector and local governments.

The coronavirus vaccines had a shelf life of six months.

Coronavirus vaccine hesitancy among Filipinos was also more pronounced in the latter part of the year, Ms. Vergeire said.

As of Nov. 17, about 73.6 million Filipinos had been fully vaccinated against the coronavirus, according to data from the Health department.

About 21 million have received their first boosters, well below the 50% target earlier set by the government. The goal was lowered to 30% days before its booster campaign ended on Oct. 8.

Senator Pia S. Cayetano earlier said wasted coronavirus vaccines accounted for 12% of 250 million shots bought by the government.

She said vaccine waste in low- and middle-income countries had gone up to 30%, higher than the 10% threshold set by the World Health Organization.

DoH is set to hold a two-day vaccination drive on Dec. 5 to 7 targeting children aged 5 to 11 years.

Also on Monday, the US said it would donate $5 million (P287 million) to boost the Philippines’ vaccination drive against the coronavirus

The vaccine rollout would be under the Global VAX initiative, the White House said in a statement.

The US government said it would also invest $8 million to strengthen its global health security partnership with the Philippines to “help prevent avoidable outbreaks, detect health threats early and respond rapidly and effectively when outbreaks occur.

“The $8-million potential investment is subject to availability of funds.

The US has given the Philippines more than $46 million in COVID response assistance. Washington has also donated 33.6 million COVID-19 vaccine doses to the Philippines in partnership under the COVID-19 Vaccines Global Access or COVAX, which promote equal vaccine access.

In addition, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has set up a new office in the Philippines.

“These efforts reflect the United States’ prioritization of the US-Philippine health partnership under the global health Security agenda,” the White House said. — KATA