COVID-19 pandemic: Latest situation in the Philippines – December 2020

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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 should the public expect in terms of the economy and vaccine development?

Bookmark and refresh this page for the latest news updates, opinion articles, and analysis pieces about the COVID-19 pandemic in the Philippines.

Latest updates

PH ends 2020 with 474,064 COVID-19 cases

The Philippines records 474,064 confirmed COVID-19 cases after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 1,541 additional cases on Thursday, December 31, last day of 2021.

The DOH also reported 14 new deaths due to the coronavirus disease, bringing the death toll to 9,244. Meanwhile, recoveries are up by 296, raising the total to 439,796.

Of the total cases, 25,024 are active.

Rappler.com

DOH bulletin: COVID-19 cases as of December 31, 2020

Rappler.com

Manila city gov't on lookout for smuggled COVID-19 vaccine

The city government of Manila is on the lookout for smuggled and illegal vaccines in the capital, Mayor Isko Moreno said in a Laging Handa briefing on Thursday, December 31.

Moreno said the monitoring began two weeks ago. "Rest assured these things are not going to be allowed in Manila. These are unauthorized. We will not allow our people to be fooled around by these [sellers] who claim to sell COVID-19 vaccines," said Moreno. So far, the city government has not discovered any smuggled vaccines.

The mayor said that when the time comes to set aside funds for approved vaccines in the city, he would be willing to cancel additional projects to buy more vaccines if needed.

Earlier, Presidential Security Group chief Brigadier General Jesus Durante took "full responsibility" for the unregistered vaccine administration on several close-in security of President Rodrigo Duterte. The PSG is located in Manila.

Michelle Abad

New Year trip to PH? Consider later dates, DFA says

The Department for Foreign Affairs (DFA) advised Filipino citizens and other travelers planning to go to the Philippines for the New Year to consider rescheduling.

The DFA’s travel advisory was issued after Malacañang announced an extended travel ban on flights and foreign passengers coming from 20 countries where a new, possibly more infectious strain of COVID-19 was found.

“During the period 30 December 2020 to 15 January 2020, all foreign nationals, regardless of previous Philippine visas and exemptions granted, who will be flying from or been to the following (20) countries and jurisdictions within 14 days of arrival in the Philippines… will not be permitted to enter Philippine territory,” the DFA warned. 

Filipino citizens will be allowed to enter but will need to complete strict 14-day quarantines at a government facility, even if their RT-PCR tests were negative for COVID-19. 

Countries currently covered by the travel restrictions were Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Hong Kong SAR, Iceland, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Lebanon, the Netherlands, Singapore, Switzerland, Sweden, South Korea, South Africa, Spain, and the United Kingdom. 

Sofia Tomacruz

DOH bulletin: COVID-19 cases as of December 30, 2020

Rappler.com

Sulu on lockdown from January 4 to 17

The province of Sulu will be on lockdown from January 4 to 17 to prevent the entry of the new coronavirus strain, Sulu Governor Abdusakur Tan announced in a Laging Handa briefing on Wednesday, December 30.

There were earlier reports that the new strain had reached neighboring Sabah.

Tan said locally stranded individuals (LSIs), overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), and returning residents who are not frontliners will not be allowed entry during the lockdown period. Unauthorized outbound travel will be prohibited but essential goods like food will still have unhampered movement.

The governor earlier said they would be making use of water and air assets to monitor movement. The province also highlighted its need for more COVID-19 equipment, since they still need to send their swab specimens to Zamboanga for processing. Sulu has confirmed at least 301 COVID-19 cases.

Michelle Abad

PSG chief: 'I take full responsibility' for unregistered vaccine use

Presidential Security Group(PSG) chief Brigadier General Jesus Durante said on Wednesday, December 30, that he takes "full responsibility" for the unregistered vaccine administered on several close-in security of President Rodrigo Duterte.

"I take full responsibility for our actions here.... I take full responsibility being the commander of the PSG," Durante said in an interview on ANC's Headstart when asked whether he planned to report to the health department how the PSG members were vaccinated. (READ: DOH, FDA not consulted on early vaccination of soldiers, officials)

Read the full story here.

Bonz Magsambol

Lorenzana: Vaccines used by Duterte security smuggled but ‘justified’

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said that the COVID-19 vaccines used by members of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) are indeed smuggled as it was unauthorized, but the intention behind the act is “justified” as it is meant to protect President Rodrigo Duterte.

Read the full story here.

Rappler.com

LIST: Areas with travel ban for foreign travelers, effective December 30

Rappler.com

PH COVID-19 cases now at 471,526

The Philippines now has 471,526 confirmed COVID-19 cases after the Department of Health (DOH) reported 886 additional cases on Tuesday, December 29. This is the 1st time since June 27 to 29 that the total number of new cases was below 1,000 for 3 consecutive days.

The DOH also reported 38 new deaths due to the coronavirus disease, bringing the death toll to 9,162. Meanwhile, recoveries are up by 253, raising the total to 439,016.

Of the total cases, 23,348 are active.

In the daily DOH Bulletin, the agency said:  "The decrease in cases seen for today is due to the temporary (stop of) operation of many laboratories on Sunday, December 27." 

Rappler.com