MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Thursday announced 31,173 new COVID-19 cases, as utilization of intensive care unit beds reached 50 percent nationwide, data from the health department showed.
The number of additional cases is the eighth highest daily tally since the pandemic began, following 32,246 announced on Jan. 12, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
Of the fresh cases, 29,708 or 95 percent occurred within the recent 14 days, or from Jan. 7. The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks are Metro Manila (8,883 cases), Calabarzon (6,471 cases) and Central Luzon (2,783 cases).
The positivity rate was at 43.3 percent, based on test results of samples from 73,989 people on Jan. 18, Tuesday, according to the latest Department of Health bulletin.
Five laboratories, which contribute on average 1.1 percent of samples tested and 1.2 percent of positive cases, were unable to submit their data, the DOH said.
The Philippines has so far confirmed a total of 3,324,478 coronavirus infections, of which 275,364 or 8.3 percent remain active.
The number of active COVID-19 infections is the 5th highest ever, following 280,789 active cases reported on Jan. 15, the ABS-CBN IRG said.
Majority or 262,168 of the active cases are mild, and 8,424 are asymptomatic. The rest are broken down as follows: 305 critical, 1,488 severe, and 2,979 moderate.
COVID-related fatalities increased by 110 to 53,153. This is the highest daily death toll since Jan. 12, when 144 were announced, the research group said.
Of the new deaths, 67 occurred this month, three last December, eight in November, 13 in October, eight in September, five in August, four in July, and one each in June and April of last year.
The DOH also reported 26,298 more recoveries, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,995,961. It is the lowest daily tally since Jan. 15, when the DOH announced 23,613 recoveries, according to the research group.
The health agency said 132 duplicates, of which 87 were recoveries and one was a fatality, were removed from the total case count, while 59 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after final validation.
According to the agency, 188 cases, including 44 classified as recoveries, were found to have tested negative and have been removed from the total case count.
The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide was at 51 percent and 50 percent, respectively. Ward beds are also 58 percent in the capital region and 54 percent across the country.
Isolation beds, meanwhile, are 47 percent utilized in Metro Manila and 51 percent nationwide.
The government on Thursday began administering COVID-19 booster shots in five drugstores in Metro Manila, which it later aims to expand to more branches in the capital region and areas outside the metro.
"Mas kombiniyente, mas madali para sa kanila (publiko). Puwede ka magparehistro online para pagdating mo d'yan, pwede ka nang bakunahan nang walang aberya," Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.
(It's more convenient and easier for the public. You can register online and when you go to the drugstore, you can get vaccinated without difficulty.)
"'Yung kanilang ibang branch ay gagawin din ito sa mas malaking bahagi ng Kamaynilaan, at karatig-rehiyon. Kinakailangan pa rin may tamang sukat yung lugar kung saan isasagawa ang bakuna sa botika."
(This will be expanded to other branches in Metro Manila and nearby regions. The area should be big enough for the vaccination.)