MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Thursday logged 289 new COVID-19 cases, the 7th consecutive day the daily tally remained below 500, as it also posted a 0.9 percent positivity rate, data from the Department of Health showed.
Of the 289 additional infections, 256 or 89 percent occurred within the recent 14 days, the DOH said, adding that Metro Manila, Calabarzon, and Central Visayas top the regions with new cases.
A total of 2,837,016 confirmed COVID-19 cases have been recorded in the Philippines so far, of which 10,095 or 0.4 percent remain active, based on the latest DOH bulletin.
This is the lowest number of active infections since May 25, 2020, when 10,033 were reported, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.
COVID-related deaths increased by 47 to 50,496. Of the newly reported deaths, five occurred this month, four in November, 25 in October, 10 in September, and one each in April, March and January, the health agency said, noting late encoding of death information.
This is the fourth consecutive day that the daily death toll did not exceed 100, the ABS-CBN IRG said.
A total of 380 more recoveries were reported, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,776,425.
Nine duplicates, classified as recoveries, were removed from the total case count while 40 cases previously tagged as recuperations were reclassified as deaths after final validation, according to the DOH.
The agency said 179 cases were found to have tested negative and have been removed from the total case count. These were all recoveries, it added.
The positivity rate was at 0.9 percent, based on samples of 37,139 individuals on Dec. 14, Tuesday. It is the country's lowest since testing data became available, and was first reported last Tuesday (for samples tested on Dec. 12).
ABS-CBN News Data Analytics Team head Edson Guido said the Philippines recorded its highest positivity rate at 29.5 percent on Sept. 7 this year.
The decline in number of new cases observed since October is attributed by health experts and analysts to the widening vaccination coverage in the country.
Some 42.6 million people are already fully vaccinated against the respiratory disease, while 55.6 million others have received an initial dose, according to DOH data.
The Philippines, which logged its first confirmed coronavirus infection on Jan. 30 last year in a Chinese woman who arrived from Wuhan City, China where COVID-19 is believed to have forest emerged, rolled out its vaccination program on March 1 this year.
Meanwhile, the DOH said four laboratories were non-operational on Tuesday, while three others were unable to submit their data. These seven laboratories contribute on average 1.2 percent of samples tested and 1.3 percent of positive cases, it added.
The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and across the country was at 23 percent and 22 percent, respectively. Guido said the nationwide rate is the lowest since data became available.
Of the country's active cases, 389 are in critical condition and 1,845 are severe.
The rest include 3,442 moderate cases, 3,870 mild cases, and 549 who are asymptomatic.
The DOH has identified seven out of eight close contacts of the two omicron cases it detected in a returning Filipino from Japan and a Nigerian national, its spokesperson Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said earlier in the day.
They tested negative following a 5-day quarantine from their date of arrival, according to Vergeire. The remaining close contact of the Nigerian national is being verified, she said.
The country's vaccine expert panel will also recommend to the Food and Drug Administration to shorten to three months from six months the use of COVID-19 booster shots, Health Secretary Francisco Duque said.