MANILA (UPDATE)— The Philippines on Friday tallied 17,231 new COVID-19 infections, the highest ever daily jump since the pandemic reached the country, with the cumulative total also crossing the 1.8 million-mark.
This developed exactly 2 weeks since the enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) was imposed in virus hotspot Metro Manila and some provinces. The government has decided to downgrade it to the lower modified ECQ (MECQ) starting this weekend until the end of the month.
Friday's new infections surpassed the previous record of 15,310 cases that the Department of Health (DOH) reported on April 2.
The country's total recorded cases stood at 1,807,800.
The Philippines logged some 100,000 cases just 8 days after it crossed the 1.7 million-mark, and this is considered the fastest so far according to the ABS-CBN Data Analytics team.
A total of 123,251 or 6.8 percent are still active infections, based on the health department's tally.
The ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group noted that this is the 6th straight day that the number of active cases counted over 100,000.
The number of active cases in previous days has been adjusted for duplicates.
The positivity rate is at 26.1 percent based from the samples received from 64,934 individuals on Wednesday. This means 1 in every 4 people tested turns out positive for the virus.
ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido said this is the highest positivity rate since data became available from the DOH.
There were also 317 new deaths and 5,595 more recoveries.
This raised the country's total fatalities to 31,198 and recuperations to 1,653,351.
The newly announced fatalities is the 3rd highest since the pandemic began, following the 382 deaths announced on April 6, ABS-CBN's research unit said.
Friday's deaths included 221 cases first tagged as recoveries, the DOH added.
A total of 434 duplicates, of which 424 are recoveries, have been excluded from the running tally, according to the agency.
Meanwhile, a recovered case turned out to be an active infection.
Two laboratories failed to submit data on time.
Metro Manila's intensive care unit (ICU) occupation rate soared to 74 percent from 73 percent on Thursday, data from the agency showed.
Nationwide, the ICU bed utilization rate is at 73 percent, a jump by a percentage point from the previous day.
Guido said these rates are already considered high risks.
Many hospitals in the country are already inundated with COVID-19 patients due to the continued stream of virus patients since late July, with some patients dying in parking lots.
Health facilities are also hit by several staff resignations due to poor benefits and low allowances, with some still allegedly unpaid by their employers. Some union leaders have already threatened to hold a strike due to their poor working conditions.
Hospitals, meanwhile, fear the desertions have reached a critical point just as the COVID-19 Delta variant sends the number of cases soaring, as it has done elsewhere in Southeast Asia and worldwide.
The Philippines conducts about 60,000 coronavirus tests per day, up from 50,000 in past months, said National Task Force Against COVID-19 deputy chief implementer Vince Dizon.
Dizon admitted that the country's COVID-19 testing remained limited.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said a country could consider reopening the economy once the positivity rate is down to 5 percent for at least 2 weeks. This can mean that the cases are slowing and the virus growth is controlled.
But a high number of people testing positive for COVID-19 means more testing should be done, according to the Johns Hopkins University.
As of Wednesday, the government has administered at least 29.1 million COVID-19 vaccine doses, with 16.2 million people already given their first dose.
A total of 12.8 million Filipinos, meanwhile, are already fully vaccinated against the disease.