Philippines records 582 new COVID-19 cases, highest in nearly 2 weeks

Gillan Ropero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 17 2021 04:12 PM | Updated as of Dec 17 2021 05:50 PM

Catholics participate in the prayers during the Simbang Gabi at the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph, popularly known as the Bamboo Organ Church in Las Piñas City on December 16, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News
Catholics participate in the prayers during the Simbang Gabi at the Diocesan Shrine and Parish of St. Joseph, popularly known as the Bamboo Organ Church in Las Piñas City on December 16, 2021. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News

MANILA (UPDATE)— The Philippines on Friday recorded 582 new COVID-19 cases, the highest daily tally in nearly 2 weeks, data from the health department showed. 

Of the fresh cases, 315 or 54 percent occurred within the recent 14 days, while Metro Manila, Calabarzon and Western Visayas were the top regions with new cases, the DOH said.

This is the highest since Dec. 5, when 603 cases were announced, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group (ABS-CBN IRG). It is also the first time that new cases breached 500 after 7 straight days, it added, citing DOH data adjusted for duplicate cases.

Some 10,167 active infections comprise 0.4 percent of the country's total 2,837,464 cases, based on the latest DOH bulletin. This is the second lowest number of active cases so far this year, next to Thursday's number of active cases, according to the research group.

COVID-related deaths increased by 74, resulting in a total of 50,570 fatalities. This is the highest since Wednesday, when the DOH announced 100 deaths, the ABS-CBN IRG said.

Of the newly reported deaths, 9 occurred in December, 11 in November, 23 in October, 18 in September, 11 in August, 1 in July, and 1 in February, the DOH said, citing late reporting of death information.

Some 494 more recoveries were reported, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,776,727. 

Eight duplicates, classified as recoveries, were removed from the total case count, while 59 cases previously tagged as recuperations were reclassified as deaths after final validation, the DOH said.

It added that 126 cases, of which 125 were recoveries, were found to have tested negative and have been removed from the total case count.

The positivity rate was at 1 percent, based on samples of 33,545 individuals on Dec. 15, Wednesday. 

Four laboratories were non-operational on Wednesday, while one was unable to submit their data, the DOH said. These 5 laboratories contribute on average 0.1 percent of samples tested and 0.2 percent of positive cases, it added.

The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide was at 24 percent and 22 percent, respectively. 

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The Philippines on Friday formally launched the World Health Organization's Solidarity Trial for COVID-19 vaccines, seeking some 15,000 to 20,000 participants.

The development comes just days after the country confirmed its first 2 cases of the omicron variant in a returning Filipino from Japan and a Nigerian national.

The study currently involves 2 vaccines, with participants to be monitored for a year, according to principal investigators Marissa Alejandria and Jodor Lim. Participants may also receive a placebo, they said.

"We are not just looking after ourselves but after other people beyond our borders because we are contributing to the global effort to find the most effective vaccines for specific populations," said Jaime Montoya, executive director of the Department of Science and Technology-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development.

The second run of the National Vaccination Days in areas which began on Wednesday is set to end later Friday. Other provinces will hold the vaccination drive on Dec. 20 to 22 or Dec. 27 to 29 following the onslaught of Typhoon Odette.

The Philippines has so far fully vaccinated 43 million individuals while 55.98 million have received an initial dose as of Wednesday noon, according to Department of Health data.