MANILA (UPDATE) - The Philippines on Thursday recorded 288 new COVID-19 cases, according to the Department of Health (DOH), as several laboratories' failure to submit data persisted.
Two laboratories were non-operational on Tuesday, while 11 others were unable to submit their data, the DOH said. These 13 laboratories contribute on average 9.1 percent of samples tested and 4 percent of positive cases, it added.
Of the 288 newly reported cases, 241 occurred within the recent 14 days. Metro Manila, Western Visayas, and Calabarzon were the top regions with most new cases in the recent two weeks, according to the health agency.
A total of 2,837,903 cases have so far been confirmed since the coronavirus reached the Philippines last year, of which 9,251 or 0.3 percent remain active infections, based on the latest case bulletin.
COVID-related deaths increased by 65 to 50,981.
Of the new deaths, two occurred this month, six last month, 14 in October, 31 in September, four in August, one in July, three in June, three in May, and one in April, the DOH said, citing late encoding of death information.
A total of 270 more recoveries were also reported, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,777,671.
Two duplicates, classified as recoveries, were removed from the total case count, while 60 cases that were previously tagged as recuperations were reclassified as deaths after final validation, the DOH said.
There were 167 cases initially classified as recoveries that were found to have tested negative and have been removed from the total case count, it added.
The positivity rate was at 1.1 percent, based on test results of samples from 32,118 individuals on Dec. 21, Tuesday. The last time that the DOH recorded that rate was on Dec. 11, as it had ranged from 0.8 to 1 percent in recent days.
The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and across the country was at 20 percent and 19 percent, respectively. The nationwide rate is the lowest since data became available, according to Edson Guido, head of the ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team.
The Food and Drug Administration on Thursday approved for emergency use Pfizer's COVID-19 vaccine for children aged 5 and above.
The government would have to procure separate jabs as the dosage for children aged 5 to 11 is lower than that of individuals aged 12 and above, said FDA director general Eric Domingo.
"Yun pong present doses natin ngayon ay pang-adults po yun at maaaring gamitin sa 12 to 17 (years old)," he said.
(The doses we currently have are for adults and can be used for 12 to 17 years old.)
"Sa pagkakaalam ko po ito po ay pinaplano ng NTF (National Task Force against COVID-19) at DOH na gawin as early as January next year, siyempre depende po 'yan kung merong na-order na sila o naka-secure na sila ng supplies ng bakuna para sa mga bata," he added.
(As far as I know, the NTF and DOH is planning to do it as early as January next year. Of course it depends if they have ordered or secured vaccine supply for children.)
The FDA has also granted emergency use authorization for Molnarz' molnupiravir, Domingo said.
The widening vaccination coverage in the country has been cited as key in the decline of new coronavirus infections observed since October this year.