Philippines’ COVID-19 cases near half-million mark

DRIVE-THROUGH. A healthcare worker takes samples at a drive-through testing center for COVID-19

Rappler file photo

The country records over 2,000 new cases for the second consecutive day

The total number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in the Philippines inched closer to half a million, as the Department of Health reported over 2,000 new cases on Saturday, January 16.

The DOH reported 2,058 new cases on Saturday, raising the total to 498,691, inching closer to the half-million mark nearly a year after the country confirmed its first COVID-19 case – a Chinese tourist from Wuhan in Hubei province who arrived in the Philippines on January 21, 2020.

It was the second consecutive day of 2,000-plus cases in the country, after it recorded 2,048 additional cases on Friday, January 15. Health authorities and experts had anticipated a post-holiday spike in cases.

The DOH said 8 more people died of COVID-19, bringing the latest death toll to 9,884. There were 406 more recoveries, pushing the total number of people wbo beat the disease to 460,133.

There are 28,674 active cases in the country.

The Philippines has imposed a travel ban on 34 countries until January 31 in an effort to curb the entry of the B117 variant of the virus causing COVID-19.

The government also earlier  issued an emergency use authorization (EAU) for Pfizer and BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine, clearing the way for its use in a country hardest hit by the pandemic in Southeast Asia. It has also signed an agreement for 25 million doses of CoronaVac, the coronavirus vaccine of Chinese firm Sinovac.

Philippine vaccine czar Carlito Galvez Jr had said that the Duterte government could begin distributing COVID-19 vaccines to the public as early as February 2021. –

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