MANILA (2nd UPDATE) - The Philippines reported 4,734 additional COVID-19 infections on Tuesday, as the country announced its first two cases of the coronavirus variant first detected in India.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), the relatively fewer cases for the day were due to the failure of 12 testing laboratories to submit data and their lower testing output on Sunday.
Based on the latest bulletin, only 32,205 samples were collected by accredited laboratories that day, of which 12.2 percent tested positive for the virus.
ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido noted that the positivity rate on Sunday is the lowest in nearly 2 months or since March 15.
The day's number of new cases is the lowest announced in nearly two months according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group (IRG). The new figures raised the country's cumulative tally to 1,113,547, of which 56,752 are considered active.
The research unit also said the day's active cases is considered the fewest since March 15.
There were 59 more people who died due to the disease, the lowest recorded in more than a month, bringing the country's death toll to 18,620.
The day's new fatalities include 19 cases initially classified as recovered, the DOH said.
Recoveries, meanwhile, increased to 1,038,175 with 7,837 newly announced recuperations.
The total number of recoveries accounts for 93.2 percent of the Philippines' overall case count.
A total of 13 cases were excluded from the country's total recorded cases. Of these, 10 are recoveries, while 1 is a death.
NEW CASES IN NCR DOWN TO OVER 1,900 BUT TESTING OUTPUT LOWER
Independent research group OCTA said in its latest monitoring that fresh infections in the capital region is down to 1,944 in the past week (May 4 to May 10) compared to the 5,549 during the surge's peak between March 29 to April 4.
This, as the growth of infections further slowed to 0.65 as of Monday, according to the research unit.
The average daily attack rate (ADAR) per 100,000 people in Metro Manila is now at 14.08.
ADAR is the number of new cases in a city or province over a two-week period, divided by the population of the city or province.
Those still battling the disease in the region also dropped to 19,135 last week, from 73,722 during the same period in late March and early April.
The average number of people being tested, however, dropped to 22,763 last week from 26,289 during the height of the surge, according to the independent group of researchers.
The ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team earlier noted that the slowdown in testing "affects all data points such as the positivity rate, or the percentage of positive test results relative to the individuals tested."
Vergeire on Saturday also pointed out that the lower number of cases being reported in recent weeks could be attributed to the fewer number of samples being received by testing laboratories.
Several health experts and advocates have been calling for "mass testing" to see the extent of the virus growth in the country, most especially in the wake of more transmissible COVID-19 variants.
Despite this, the DOH said it does not plan to conduct mass testing in the country to prevent "indiscriminate" tests or tests being done randomly.
On the other hand, the utilization of intensive care unit (ICU) beds slightly improved, from 79 percent during the peak to 67 percent last week, based on OCTA's report.
Vince Dizon, deputy chief implementer of the National Task Force Against COVID-19, earlier said that several hospitals committed to convert their facilities into ICU beds this month.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire had also said that some hospital's COVID-19 isolation wards were converted to ICU beds to help them cope with ICU admissions.
COVID-19 VARIANT FROM INDIA
According to the health department earlier in the day, the first 2 cases infected with the B.1.617 variant are male OFWs who had no travel history to India.
The World Health Organization said the B.1.617 variant of COVID-19 first found in India last October seemed to be transmitting more easily.
The developments came as the country continues to rollout its vaccination program, more than 2 months since it received its first vaccine doses.
As of May 9, nearly 2 million Filipinos already received their first jabs against COVID-19, while more than 450,000 are fully vaccinated.
The total number of people fully protected against COVID-19 is still far from the target 70 million by the end of the year.