MANILA (UPDATE) — Coronavirus infections in the Philippines breached the 555,000 mark on Thursday, with 1,744 new cases reported by the health department amid the lingering uncertainty on the date of arrival of COVID-19 vaccines in the country.
The cumulative total of COVID-19 cases in the Southeast Asian nation reached 555,163, of which, 31,115 or 5.6 percent are active infections.
Thursday's additional cases do not include data from 6 laboratories that failed to submit their results on time.
It is the 6th straight day that additional COVID-19 cases counted fewer than 2,000.
The daily tally also included 96 additional COVID-related deaths, or a total of 11,673 fatalities.
This likely includes what the Department of Health (DOH) reported as 68 recovered cases that turned out to be deaths after final validation.
The newly reported fatalities is the highest in a single day since February 10, when 144 deaths were announced.
Meanwhile, total recoveries went up by 412 to 512,375.
Of the active cases, 85.6% have mild symptoms, 8.6% are asymptomatic, 2.5% are in critical condition, 2.5% have severe symptoms, and 0.78% have moderate symptoms.
The DOH said it removed 5 cases, 2 tagged as recoveries, from the total count for being duplicate entries.
While the DOH has stopped releasing the list of provinces with the most number of new cases, it has said this week that it is monitoring Region 7 and Caraga for the continued increase in infections there. It also flagged 8 cities in Metro Manila showing a spike in cases as well.
The agency attributes the increase to the movement of people during the holidays.
The OCTA Research Group also tagged Cebu City and Mandaue City, both in Region 7, as COVID-19 hotspots.
Dr. Rabindra Abeyasinghe, the World Health Organization Country Representative, said that while COVID-19 cases in the Philippines is plateauing, “it has not flattened yet and so we still need to be conscious of the fact that there is relatively high level of transmission in the community and that the situation is also complicated by the presence of new variants.”
So far, 44 cases of the more transmissible UK COVID-19 variant have been recorded in the country.
The Philippines, which confirmed its first COVID-19 case on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan, City, China, has lagged behind some of its Asian neighbors in the rollout of vaccines against the coronavirus.
As of Thursday, there is still no definite date on the delivery of vaccines in the country, with the expected arrival of the initial supply from Pfizer and Sinovac pushed back due to some requirements.
The government aims to inoculate up to 70 million people in the country to achieve herd immunity against the coronavirus.
Restrictions aimed at curbing the spread of the infectious disease have slowly been relaxed by government to salvage the pandemic-battered economy.
There are currently 45.6 million people with COVID-19 worldwide. Since the start of the pandemic, 109.9 million people have been infected by the COVID-19 virus, according to the Johns Hopkins University coronavirus dashboard. Of those, 2.4 million have died and almost 61.9 million have recovered.