MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Friday posted 3,788 new COVID-19 cases, the fourth time in as many days the tally remained below 5,000, data from the health department showed.
The positivity rate has declined to 14.7 percent, based on samples of 32,795 individuals on Feb. 9, Wednesday, based on the latest Department of Health bulletin. This is the lowest positivity rate since Dec. 29, according to Edson Guido, head of the ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team.
Of the newly reported cases, 3,661 or 97 percent occurred within the recent 14 days. Metro Manila (470 cases), Western Visayas (455 cases) and Davao region (453 cases) were the top regions with cases in the recent two weeks.
The Philippines has so far tallied a total of 3,630,637 cases, of which 91,147 or 2.5 percent remain active. This is the lowest number of active cases since Jan. 7, when 77,369 active infections were announced, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
Of those still battling the disease, 83,145 (91.22 percent) were mild cases, 3,261 (3.58 percent) were asymptomatic, 2,986 (3.28 percent) were moderate cases, 1,443 (1.58 percent) were severe cases, and 312 (0.34 percent) were critical cases.
COVID-related deaths increased by 72, resulting in a total of 54,854 fatalities. Of the newly reported deaths, 32 occurred this month, 23 last month, 2 in December, 1 each in October, 3 in September, 8 in August, 1 in July, and 2 in June, the DOH said.
There were 5,652 more recoveries, raising the total number of recuperations to 3,484,636.
Some 726 duplicates, including 449 recoveries and 1 death, were removed from the total case count, while 52 cases previously tagged as recuperations were reclassified as deaths after final validation, the DOH said.
A laboratory, which contributes on average 0.1 percent of samples tested and 0.01 percent of positive cases, were unable to submit their data, the DOH said.
The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide was at 24 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
Government is preparing to transition to the new normal or Alert Level 1, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.
"What would be retained would be our self-regulation, we'll still follow minimum public health standards...Tayo po ay naghahanda (We are preparing) so we can enable these environment to be safe spaces for our citizens," she told reporters.
Mandatory wearing of face masks will be the "last to go" as government eases restrictions, Vergeire said.
"I think safeguards should still be there kung magkakaroon man tayo ng (if we implement) transition and easing of restrictions, I think the mask mandate will be the last to go because it will protect each and one of us kung saka-sakali not just from COVID-19 but from other respiratory infections also," she said.
Aside from minimum health standards, vaccination is important to reduce transmission and mutation and a step towards reaching the coronavirus' endemicity in the country, Vergeire added.
Government has extended its third round of nationwide vaccination drive until Feb. 18, alongside the expansion of inoculation of children ages 5 to 11, the spokesperson said.
The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 59.95 million individuals, while 60.7 million others have received an initial dose, and 8 million booster shots have been administered, as of Feb. 4.