Daily COVID-19 tally hits record


PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS

The Department of Health (DoH) reported 9,838 coronavirus infections on Friday, the highest daily tally since the start of the pandemic last year.

Friday’s tally surpassed the number on Thursday at 8,773, bringing the total to 702,856, it said in a bulletin.

The death toll rose by 54 to 13,149, while recoveries increased by 663 to 580,689, it said in a bulletin.

There were 109,018 active cases, 95.1% of which were mild, 3% did not show symptoms, 0.7% were critical, 0.8% severe and 0.42% were moderate.

The agency said 29 duplicates and one case found to have tested negative had been removed from the tally. Twenty-two recovered cases were reclassified as deaths. Six laboratories failed to submit data on Mar. 25.

About 9.3 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of Mar. 24, according to DoH’s tracker website.

The coronavirus has sickened about 126.1 million and killed 2.8 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization. About 101.7 million people have recovered, it said.

Meanwhile, healthcare use in the country was at 41%, while internal care use was nearing the threshold for moderate risk, Health Undersecretary Leopold J. Vega told an online briefing.

More than half of or 54.34% of the 2,306 ICU beds in the country had been occupied as of Mar. 24, according to DoH’s tracker website. Bed occupancy in Metro Manila was at “high moderate risk,” he added.

About 61% of more than 8,000 beds in Metro Manila were occupied.

He recommended increasing bed allocations for coronavirus patients especially in government hospitals, adding that modular hospitals were being built to augment bed capacity.

VACCINE PRIORITY

Meanwhile, an inter-agency task force approved a plan to allot most of the 400,000 CoronaVac shots made by Sinovac Biotech Ltd. and donated by China to areas where more contagious variants of the coronavirus had been detected, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said.

The vaccines would be given to areas under the so-called National Regional Capital Plus, as well as Cebu and Davao.
The Philippines took delivery of the 400,000 CoronaVac doses on Wednesday. These were on top of the 600,000 doses donated by China and received in February.

President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Sunday tightened the quarantine restrictions for Metro Manila, Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal — the NCR Plus — placing them under a “bubble” from Mar. 22 to Apr. 4.

Mass gatherings and some religious activities were banned and an eight-hour curfew was imposed starting at 10:00 p.m.

Only essential travel into and out of Metro Manila and surrounding areas would be allowed.

Mr. Roque said the task force had allowed religious gatherings once a day from April 1 to 4 at 10% capacity.
Also on Friday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said the substitution list for vaccination should only include healthcare workers.

She told an online news briefing they had met with regional directors, agencies and local governments on the protocol for vaccination.

The quick substitution list should be prepared so as not to waste vaccines in case those listed for vaccination decline to get the shots.

Meanwhile, Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque on Friday said we would ask the inter-agency task force to move overseas Filipino workers up on the vaccination priority list.

Migrant Filipino workers would be equal to frontline personnel and essential frontliners on the list, he told a House of Representatives committee hearing.

Under the list, health workers are supposed to get vaccinated first, followed by senior citizens, adults with comorbidities, frontline personnel in essential sectors and the poor.