MANILA (2nd UPDATE) — The Philippines on Saturday announced 5,000 more COVID-19 cases, a new-record high this year and the highest in nearly 7 months, raising the country’s total number of infections to 616,611.
This, as the health department also reported earlier in the day almost a hundred cases of a variant first detected here in the Philippines, and the detection of the more transmissible variant from Brazil.
The day’s figure is considered the highest since Aug. 26, when the Department of Health (DOH) confirmed 5,219 fresh cases, data collated by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group showed. That was also the last time the country’s daily infections topped 5,000.
Active infections reached 56,679, with 92.3 percent of the patients experiencing mild symptoms or are asymptomatic. ABS-CBN Data Analytics Head Edson Guido said Saturday’s number of active infections is also the highest since Oct. 3 last year.
The health department logged 72 COVID-related deaths. The Philippines’ death toll due to the virus stood at 12,766.
This is also the 3rd straight day that daily deaths exceeded 50, Guido noted.
Recoveries increased by 281 to 547,166. This accounts for 88.7 percent of the country’s total recorded cases.
Out of 30,456 people who got tested for COVID-19 on Friday noon, some 3,900 or 12.8 percent were confirmed to have the disease.
The DOH said the day's new cases do not include results from 7 laboratories that failed to submit data to the COVID-19 Data Repository System by Friday.
A total of 6 case duplicates have been removed from the country's cumulative tally, of which 4 were recoveries. A case was also found to have tested negative that's why it was withdrawn from the tally.
On the other hand, some 23 cases initially classified as recoveries turned out to be fatalities after the agency's final validation.
This is the third straight day that the Philippines logged a record-high daily tally of new infections, with experts warning the need to impose stricter localized lockdowns and border control to stem the virus spread.
MORE VARIANTS CAN ALREADY BE HERE IN PH
Prof. Guido David of the OCTA Research, an independent group of analysts providing timely updates and forecasts on the country's COVID-19 situation, said the looser lockdown restrictions, the public's complacency on health protocols, and the presence of coronavirus variants could be the reasons behind the recent surge.
Speaking to ABS-CBN's Teleradyo, David also pointed out that the country could still see high single-day COVID-19 tally in the coming days.
"Mukhang tataas pa talaga 'yan kasi hindi naman 'yan bababa agad-agad eh. Pero yung infection ng mga variants... kumbaga, sa percentage 150 percent more [infectious] kumpara sa dating virus na kumakalat sa atin, kaya rin mas mabilis ang pagkakahawa, mas mataas ang reproduction dahil mas infectious ito," the expert explained.
(It seemed like the new cases would still increase. It will not drop immediately. The new variants are 150 percent more infectious compared to the original virus that's why the rate of infection, reproduction, is faster.)
There are several variants already spreading, he said, given the uptrend rate of infection and the recent arrival of a Filipino traveling to Japan with a new variant.
"Hindi natin masisigurado na kaunti lang ang variants dito. Most likely, dahil doon sa trend, mas mabilis ang pagkalat. Most likely, marami-rami ang kumakalat dito," he said.
(We cannot say that there are only a few variants spreading in the country. Most likely, because of the trend, the virus is spreading rapidly. There could be more variants already here.)
The OCTA Research group this week said the country could record up to over 6,500 daily COVID-19 infections by the end of March if the spread becomes uncontrolled, with more than half of fresh cases coming from Metro Manila.
The country's top health officials earlier denied that the detected presence of COVID-19 variants locally led to the recent spike of infections, and said the public was becoming more "lax" in observing minimum health protocols.
WATCH: When will we get vaccinated vs COVID-19? | NXT