MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Tuesday reported 849 fresh COVID-19 cases, the first time in 10 months that the daily tally fell below 1,000, although the health department said it was "largely due to the weekly dip of testing output."
According to the Department of Health, the decline in testing output is "due to weekend encoding of positive cases to CDRS (COVID Documents Repository System)," with last Sunday, Nov. 14, showing "the lowest testing output this week."
The agency's COVID-19 bulletin for the day showed that only 28,128 individuals were tested last Sunday, of whom 3.2 percent were found positive for the coronavirus.
ABS-CBN Data Analytics head Edson Guido said the 3.2 percent positivity rate is the lowest since April 5 last year, and the second lowest since testing data became available last year.
The World Health Organization's (WHO) benchmark for positivity rate is 5 percent or lower for at least two weeks. A relatively high rate means more people should be tested for the coronavirus.
Tuesday's number of fresh infections is the lowest daily tally in nearly 11 months, or since Dec. 28, 2020 when the DOH logged 764 new cases, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
The latest DOH bulletin showed that of the total 2,819,341 recorded cases in the country since the pandemic started, 25,464 or 0.9 percent were active infections.
This is the lowest number of active cases since Feb. 21 this year, when the country logged 24,270, the ABS-CBN IRG said, citing adjusted DOH data.
COVID-related deaths increased by 99 to 45,808, while 2,393 more recoveries were reported, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,748,069. This is the the lowest daily tally of recoveries in three days, or since Nov. 13 when the DOH announced 1,696 new recuperations, the ABS-CBN IRG said.
Nineteen duplicates were removed from the total case count, of which 18 were recoveries, the DOH said. A total of 83 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after final validation, it added.
Six laboratories, which contribute on average 0.8 percent of samples tested and 0.7 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 33 percent and 34 percent, respectively.
The government is set to roll out booster shots for health workers on Wednesday in a bid to expand vaccine coverage. Some 2.6 million medical frontliners and members of their household have been fully vaccinated as of Monday, according to DOH data.
Overall, a total of 31.57 million people or 40.93 percent of the target population have been fully inoculated against the respiratory disease, Malacañang said.
The widening vaccination coverage in the country is being cited as among main reasons for the decline in new infections observed since last month.