Philippines posts 2,961 fresh COVID-19 cases on New Year's Eve

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Dec 31 2021 04:00 PM | Updated as of Dec 31 2021 11:19 PM

Travelers flock to bus terminals as they line up to take their bus rides in Cubao Quezon City on December 31, 2021, hoping to reach their respective provinces in time to welcome the New Year. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News
Travelers flock to bus terminals as they line up to take their bus rides in Cubao Quezon City on December 31, 2021, hoping to reach their respective provinces in time to welcome the New Year. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News


MANILA - The Philippines on New Year's Eve logged 2,961 new COVID-19 cases, as health experts warned that another surge could be likely due to increased mobility and relaxed health protocols. 

The positivity rate was at 10.3 percent, based on samples of 30,526 individuals on Dec. 29, Wednesday. This is a 56 percent increase from 6.6 percent positivity rate tallied on Tuesday, data from the Department of Health showed.

This was way above the World Health Organization's benchmark of 5 percent positivity rate or lower for at least two weeks. A relatively high rate means more people should be tested for the coronavirus.

Two laboratories were non-operational on Wednesday, while 6 others were unable to submit their data, the DOH said. These 8 laboratories contribute on average 0.4 percent of samples tested and 0.3 percent of positive cases, it added.

Of the 2,961 newly reported cases, 2,927 or 99 percent occurred within the recent 14 days while Metro Manila, Calabarzon, Central Luzon were the top regions with cases in the recent two weeks, the DOH said.

The number of fresh infections is the highest since Nov. 1 or when 2,639 new cases was reported, according to data gathered by the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.

A total of 2,843,979 cases have been reported since the coronavirus reached the Philippines last year. Of this figure, 14,233 or 0.5 percent were active infections, based on the latest DOH bulletin. 

COVID-related deaths increased by 132, resulting in a total of 51,504 fatalities. 

Of the new deaths, 9 occurred in December 2021, 3 in November 2021, 24 in October 2021, 18 in September 2021, 12 in August 2021, 6 in July 2021, 8 in June 2021, 5 in May 2021, 13 in April 2021, 8 in March 2021, 4 in January 2021, 2 in December 2020, 3 in November 2020, 1 in October 2020, 4 in September 2020, 10 in August 2020, 1 in July 2020, and 1 in March 2020.

"This issue is currently being coordinated with the Epidemiology and Surveillance Units to ensure information is up to date," the DOH said.

There were 481 more recoveries, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,778,242. 

Ten duplicates were removed from the total case count, including 7 recoveries and 1 death, while 117 cases previously tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths after final validation, according to the DOH.

Some 232 cases were found to have tested negative and have been removed from the total case count, the DOH said. Of these, 230 are recoveries, it added.

The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide was at 24 percent and 20 percent, respectively. 

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The recent increase in virus cases can be attributed to the public's increased mobility due to the holiday season, said Professor Jomar Rabajante of the University of the Philippines (UP) pandemic response team.

"Most of the people are coming from the working class age group, coming from millennials and Gen Z, 20s and 30s. Probably because of many reasons... frontliners are also within this age range, these people are very mobile, they can already go outside," he said

"If this will be omicron, then this might be higher than the peak we had last September. We might be expecting more people to be infected during the first (few) weeks of January 2022. We still need to wait for the DNA sequenced results from the Philippine Genome Center to really see if this is already omicron. Remember delta is also very transmissible."