A year into the pandemic, the Philippines on Friday, March 19, logged 7,103 COVID-19 cases – the biggest single-day tally in the country since the pandemic began.
The new numbers pushed the country’s total confirmed cases to 648,066.
Barely 3 weeks into March, the caseload has hit 71,714, a big jump compared to the previous months (42,434 in December, 51,554 in January, and 50,734 in February).
Coronavirus deaths also continued to rise with 13 new fatalities, bringing the death toll to 12,900. Recoveries grew by 390 to 561,902.
Of the total cases, 73,264 are active – the highest since since August 29, 2020, when 74,611 active cases were reported.
The Philippines’ daily positivity rate – or the percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed that are actually positive – also hit 15%. It was also the highest since April 22, 2020, when 16.77% was reported.
The World Health Organization recommends positivity rates to remain below 5% for at least two weeks before governments can consider reopening the economy. (READ: Duterte to reopen economy when most Filipinos have access to COVID-19 vaccine)
The Octa Research Group on Wednesday, March 17, raised the alarm over the “serious surge” of COVID-19 cases in virus epicenter Metro Manila.
The Octa team said that reproduction number (R) – the number of people that one COVID-19 positive case can infect – in Metro Manila is now at 1.96.
Experts have said that the goal is to keep R below 1 to contain virus transmission until a COVID-19 vaccine becomes widely available.
Meanwhile, 6 in 10 beds in Metro Manila’s intensive care units (ICU) are now filled up as coronavirus cases continue to surge in the region – a situation the DOH described as “alarming.”
As infections continued to soar, the DOH said that the number of ill patients was back at the same peak level the Philippines saw in July 2020, when a surge in cases had threatened to cripple the health system.
The Philippines has been reporting around 4,000 daily cases in the past days, even hitting 5,404 new infections on Monday, March 15 – the fourth highest single-day tally in the country since the pandemic began.
The spike in cases comes just as health officials announced the detection of a new COVID-19 variant in the Philippines called P3.
Though health officials said it was “not identified as a variant of concern (VOC)” yet, Philippine Genome Center executive director Cynthia Saloma said P3 might also be more transmissible than the original version of the SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
On Friday morning, the government said it was reimposing stricter limitations on certain economic activities and establishments in Metro Manila and other general community quarantine (GCQ) areas for over two weeks, or until April 4.
Local governments in virus epicenter Metro Manila have agreed to enforce earlier curfew hours – from 10 pm to 5 am – starting March 15, while some areas in the capital region were placed under localized lockdown. – Rappler.com