MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Friday recorded 18,638 fresh COVID-19 cases, the 4th straight day the tally fell below 20,000, data from the health department showed.
The positivity rate was at 34.6 percent, based on samples of 62,671 individuals on Jan. 26, Wednesday, according to the latest Department of Health bulletin. This remains high above the World Health Organization's benchmark of 5 but a relative improvement compared to positivity rates registered earlier this month.
Of the newly reported cases, 18,281 or 98 percent occurred within the recent 14 days while Calabarzon (2,379 cases), Metro Manila (2,211 cases) and Western Visayas (1,969 cases) were the top regions with cases in the recent two weeks.
The number of fresh cases is the highest tally in four days or since Jan. 24, when 24,938 infections were announced, the ABS-CBN IRG said.
The Philippines has so far tallied a total of 3,511,491 cases, of which 231,658 or 6.6 percent remain active. This is the highest number of active cases in three days, or since Jan. 25, 2022 when 247,451 active infections were reported. according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
Of the 231,658 active cases, 219,811 (94.89 percent) were mild cases, 7,055 (3.05 percent) were asymptomatic, 2,971 (1.28 percent) were moderate cases, 1,509 (0.65 percent) were severe cases, and 312 (0.13 percent) were critical cases.
COVID-related deaths increased by 68, resulting in a total of 53,801 fatalities. This is the 7th straight day that the daily death toll has remained below 100, according to the research group.
Of the newly reported deaths, 59 occurred this month, 4 in September, 1 in August, 2 in May, 1 in April, and 1 in March, the DOH said.
There were 13,106 more recoveries, raising the total number of recuperations to 3,226,032. This is the lowest figure in two weeks, or since Jan. 14, 2022 when the DOH announced 9,027 recoveries, the ABS-CBN IRG said.
Some 594 duplicates, including 242 recoveries and 3 deaths, were removed from the total case count, according to the DOH. Twenty-two cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after final validation, the agency said.
Four laboratories, which contribute on average 0.8 percent of samples tested and 0.9 percent of positive cases, were unable to submit their data, the DOH added.
The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide was at 42 percent and 49 percent, respectively.
Virus cases in Metro Manila and other parts of Luzon are now declining while it is rising in Visayas and Mindanao, Health Undersectrary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
"'Wag po tayong mangamba, 'wag po tayo magpanic dahil sa ating mabilis na pagpapabakuna at patuloy na pagsunod sa health protocols mapipigilan po natin ang pagkalat ng virus," she said.
(Let's not worry, let's not panic because we can prevent the spread of the virus through immediate vaccination and observance of health protocols.)
Sputnik Light may now be used as a booster shot while those who were inoculated with Sinopharm may receive their third doses, Vergeire added.
Aside from vaccination, the public must still observe minimum health standards such as proper wearing of face masks and observance of physical distancing and good ventilation, the spokesperson reiterated.