What you need to know
How many people have tested positive for COVID-19 in the Philippines? How many have recovered, and how many have died? What is President Rodrigo Duterte doing about it?
What are the latest updates from the World Health Organization regarding the vaccines? How is the Department of Health addressing the variants? What should the public expect in terms of the economy, quarantine classifications, and the vaccine rollout?
Bookmark and refresh this page for the latest news updates, opinion articles, and analysis pieces about the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines.
DOJ to LGUs: Enforce health protocols at vaccination sites or face cases
The Department of Justice (DOJ) reminded local government units (LGUs) to ensure physical distancing and other health protocols are strictly observed at vaccination sites, warning officials could face administrative cases if they fail to do so.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra said that while LGUs are given free rein on how they would conduct their COVID-19 vaccination programs, minimum health standards must still be followed.
Guevarra made the statement after being asked if the government's coronavirus task force would look into complaints on Manila City's vaccination process.
Unlike most LGUs in the capital region, Manila has implemented a walk-in system as opposed to a scheduling system in an effort to ensure vaccine centers across the city have available recipients for vaccines prepared. This has led to reported violations of health protocols as people came in droves to line up for limited vaccines, even before dawn.
Guevarra said the public should call the attention of their local officials.
"Whoever [is] directly in charge of the activity may be held liable. Usually, it's the city or barangay officials. But their attention should be called first so that they could take corrective or preventive action. Sometimes, the situation simply gets out of control," he said.
Philippines' COVID-19 cases climb to 1,359,015
The Department of Health (DOH) reported 5,803 new COVID-19 cases on Sunday, June 20, bringing the total caseload of the Philippines to 1,359,015.
The number of deaths due to the disease climbed to 23,621, after 84 more deaths were reported.
Data showed that 4.2% or 57,679 of the country's 1.35 million total cases remain active.
The Philippines now has 1,277,715 recoveries after 7,652 more people recovered.
DOH bulletin: COVID-19 cases as of June 20, 2021
Philippines' COVID-19 cases now at 1,353,220
The Department of Health (DOH) reported 6,959 new COVID-19 cases on Saturday, June 19, pushing the total caseload of the Philippines to 1,353,220. Of the total cases, 4.4% or 59,439 are active.
The Philippines now has 23,538 recorded deaths due to the disease after 153 new deaths were reported on Saturday. Meanwhile, recoveries are up by 9,407, bringing the total recovered cases to 1,270,243.
The DOH said six labs were not able to submit data.
DOH bulletin: COVID-19 cases as of June 19, 2021
DOH: Situation in Indonesia shouldn't deter Sinovac jabs in PH
Health Undersecretary Maria Lourdes Vergeire said on Friday, June 18, that the situation in a district in central Java, Indonesia, where hundreds of health workers got infected with COVID-19 despite having Sinovac jabs, should not deter Filipinos from getting administered with the Chinese vaccine.
"The real world studies, all vaccines are equally effective. This means it can prevent severe infections and hospitalization," Vergeire said in a mix of English and Filipino.
She noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) had approved the Sinovac vaccine for emergency use listing (EUL).
A WHO emergency listing is a signal to national regulators on a product's safety and efficacy. It also allows the shot to be included in the COVAX facility, the global program to provide vaccines mainly for poor countries, which faces major supply problems due to an Indian export suspension.
"Ang bottom line for this would be lahat ng bakuna natin ay naapektuhan 'yan ng variants, pero may natitira pa rin na pagprotekta sa atin (all vaccines have been affected by variants, but these still can protect us)," Vergeire explained.
"So let's get the vaccine. Let's not be doubtful. Let's give that confidence kahit na may lumalabas na mga ganitong balita, 'yan pong mga bakuna ay isa sa mga susi para labanan natin ang pandemya (even though there are such reports, vaccines are one of the keys to fight the pandemic)," she added.
DOH wants complete data on Indonesian health workers' Sinovac experience
The Department of Health (DOH) said on Friday, June 18, that it is still completing its analysis of the report that hundreds of Indonesian health workers still contracted COVID-19 despite getting Sinovac jabs.
DOH spokesperson Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said that this in a press briefing, when asked about a report that 350 Indonesian health workers who were administered with the Sinovac vaccine still got infected with the disease.
"Unang-una, very cautious tayo sa pag-i-interpret ng datos, kasi kapag tiningnan natin, hindi kumpleto ang kanilang datos. Even our experts read and reviewed this, at marami pa tayong hinahanap na datos to complete our analysis base sa kanilang report," Vergeire said.
(First of all, we're very cautious in interpreting the data, because if we look at it, their data is not complete. Even our experts read and reviewed this, and we are still looking for data to complete our analysis based on their report.)
The outbreak in the district of Kudus in central Java is believed to be driven by the Delta variant.
Vergeire said the DOH cannot complete its analysis of the report on the Indonesia outbreak among vaccinated medical personnel as the report did not indicate whether there was a controlled group. It was also not clear how many healthcare workers in Indonesia received the Sinovac jab.
"One expert was saying that there are 5,000 healthcare workers in Indonesia. But the fact of the matter would be that it was reported 300 got sick, and 300/5000 would be around 2% to 3% and that leaves you 97% effectiveness of this vaccine," she explained in a mix of English and Filipino.
In an interview with DZMM's TeleRadyo on Friday morning, health expert Dr. Rontgene Solante said that workers in Indonesia may have caught COVID-19 despite being vaccinated because they have higher risk of exposure to the disease due to their occupation.
DOH bulletin: COVID-19 cases as of June 18, 2021
Shorter quarantine for returning vaccinated Filipinos effective June 22
The Philippines has moved back to June 22 the effectivity of new rules shortening the quarantine period for vaccinated Filipinos returning from abroad. The pandemic task force last announced that the rule would be implemented starting June 16.
On Friday, June 18, Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque said the date was moved "in consideration of the full rollout of the process of validating of vaccination certificates." In other words, the new rule has been moved back because the government has yet to finalize and put in place a process for verifying vaccination cards, one of the requirements for Filipinos returning abroad.
Only persons who got full vaccinations in the Philippines who are able to have their vaccination cards verified will be allowed to benefit from the shorter seven-day quarantine period.
Diocese of Legazpi locks down two big churches as clergymen positive for COVID-19
The Diocese of Legazpi has ordered the lockdown of two big churches in Albay after three clergymen tested positive for COVID-19.
Bishop Joel Baylon of the Diocese of Legazpi ordered the lockdown of Our Lady of the Gate in Daraga and St. Lawrence Martyr in Tiwi starting Thursday, June 17, until the churches are fully disinfected.
“The church, rectory, and office of the parishes of Daraga and Tiwi are on lockdown until thorough disinfection is conducted and contact tracing is concluded,” Baylon said.
“The diocese is making this public announcement, with permission from the concerned clergy and in close coordination with local health authorities, in order to help with contact tracing, encourage early detection and reporting, remind everyone to religiously observe prescribed health protocols, and ask for prayers for the recovery of all COVID-19 patients,” he added.
Baylon identified the priests as Father Eulogio Lawenko and Father Josefino Templado of Our Lady of the Gate Parish in Daraga, and Father Romeo Realingo, parochial vicar of St. Lawrence Martyr Parish in Tiwi town.
He said Lawenko and Realingo had been discharged from the hospital and were in home quarantine. while Templado, who is asymptomatic, was also in home quarantine.
Baylon called on those who had exposure to the priests to report to the local government and cooperate with contact tracers.
Baylon said masses in the two parishes will be done through live streaming and online prayer services are available for the parishioners.
The province of Albay is under the general community quarantine. Governor Al Francis Bichara ordered the stricter border control measures borders to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Albay, Camarines Sur, and Sorsogon have the highest COVID-19 cases in Bicol, based on Department of Health data.