Philippines logs 500 new Covid-19 cases and 167 deaths on Wednesday (Dec 1) as virus case continue to drop

A woman talks with another as they fill up forms prior during a nationwide vaccination drive at a school in Navotas, Philippines on Wednesday, Dec 1, 2021. There has been no reported infection so far caused by the new coronavirus variant in the Philippines, a South-East Asian pandemic hotspot where Covid-19 cases have considerably dropped, but the emergence of the omicron virus variant has set off a new alarm. - AP

MANILA, Dec 1 (Xinhua): The Philippines' Department of Health (DOH) reported 500 new Covid-19 infections on Wednesday, pushing the number of confirmed cases in the South-East Asian country to 2,833,038.

The Philippines has recorded less than 1,000 cases for eight straight days.

The DOH also reported that 167 more people died from Covid-19 complications, bringing the country's death toll to 48,712.

The number of active cases or patients still battling the disease in the country dipped further to 15,327.

Cabinet Secretary Karlo Nograles attributed the substantial drop in local Covid-19 cases to the alert level system that imposes "granular" lockdowns on selected areas with high virus clusters instead of the whole region or province the government implemented in November.

"(These) are some of the key interventions that have enabled us to effectively manage Covid-19 risks while providing for an environment conducive to economic growth," Nograles said in a statement.

"Active cases continue to fall," Nograles added, saying the country's positivity rate of 2.1 percent "is one of the lowest since testing data became available in April 2020."

"There is no overcrowding in our hospitals, with metrics of hospital care utilization rate registering all below 30 percent as of Nov. 30, 2021," he added.

As a result, Nograles said that the Philippine economy grew 7.1 percent in the third quarter.

"Our goal is to strike a balance between the management of Covid-19 and the safe reopening of the economy - to protect lives and secure livelihoods," Nograles said.

The government has enhanced surveillance and sequencing efforts as it braces for the inevitable entry of the new Omicron variant.

In a brief statement, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the Philippines has not detected any Omicron cases. "We are still processing the next batch of whole genome sequences," she added.

Omicron was first discovered in South Africa and spread to several countries. The World Health Organization has warned the mutated coronavirus could trigger surges with "severe consequences."

The Philippines has restricted travel from 14 countries in Europe and southern Africa with known Omicron outbreaks.

The Philippines battled the third wave of infections driven by the Delta variant, which peaked on Sept. 11 when the DOH reported 26,303 cases.

The Philippines, which has around 110 million population, has tested more than 22.5 million people since the pandemic. - Xinhua

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