Philippines confirms 2,921 new Covid-19 cases, highest in over 4 months; total now at 574,247


A man wearing a face mask and a face shield as protection against the coronavirus disease enters a disinfection booth at a community quarantine checkpoint, in Pasay, Metro Manila. - Reuters

MANILA, Feb. 27 (Xinhua): The Department of Health (DOH) of the Philippines reported on Saturday 2,921 new Covid-19 cases, the highest daily increase in over four months, bringing the total number of confirmed cases in the South-East Asian country to 574,247.

The DOH reported 3,139 daily cases in Oct. 16 last year.

Saturday is also the third day in a row that the Philippines has been reporting a daily increase of over 2,000 Covid-19 cases.

The death toll climbed to 12,289 after 42 more patients died from the viral disease, the DOH said. Meanwhile, 293 more patients recovered, raising the total number of recoveries to 524,865.

The Philippines, with a population of about 110 million, has tested over 8 million people since the disease emerged in January last year.

The Philippines is all geared up to receive the Sinovac vaccine CoronaVac donated by China, which are due to arrive on Sunday, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said.

The government has conducted simulation exercises to prepare for the arrival of the vaccines. "The simulation activities were held to (ensure a smooth turnover), distribution and transport of the vaccines," Vergeire told a televised press conference.



She said that every single dose of the Sinovac vaccine is essential.

"These doses of Sinovac can lessen your chances of having severe infection by as much as 100 percent, and it can lessen your chances of being hospitalized and dying," she added.

Unlike the other COVID-19 vaccines, she said Sinovac only requires a 2 to 8 degrees Celsius storage freezer, and almost all hospitals have that refrigeration system to handle the Sinovac vaccine.

The Philippines has granted emergency use authorization for Sinovac's CoronaVac vaccine, the first to be rolled out in the country.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and other officials will accept the Sinovac vaccines on Sunday afternoon in a handover ceremony at a military base in the capital.

Meanwhile, Vergeire also called for vigilance as coronavirus clusters emerged in some areas in the country, including Metro Manila, in recent days.



She blamed the spikes on easing of restrictions and non-compliance of minimum public health standards.

Vergeire called on local government units to strengthen isolation and quarantine rules amid reports of household infections due to home quarantines.

Metro Manila and nine other areas will remain under general community quarantine in March, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said on Saturday.

Roque said the rest of the country will be under the most relaxed community quarantine or modified general community quarantine (MGCQ).

Duterte has rejected his economic managers' proposal to place the entire country under MGCQ starting March 1 to revive the pandemic-hit economy. Duterte said he will put the country under MGCQ only after the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.

Meanwhile, Roque said the inter-agency coronavirus task force has approved uniform domestic travel rules by easing quarantine and documentary requirements for land, air and sea travelers.

Roque said travelers still need to undergo swab tests under the new rules if required by their destination's local government unit.

However, the new rules do not require travelers to quarantine unless they exhibit symptoms upon arrival. Travelers are not required to secure a travel authority from the police and certificates before the trip, the rules said. - Xinhua
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