Philippines Sets Daily Record for COVID-19 Infections, Nears 3M Mark

Basilio Sepe and Jojo Riñoza
Manila
2022-01-10
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Philippines Sets Daily Record for COVID-19 Infections, Nears 3M Mark A Philippine police officer checks motorists’ documents at a roadblock in suburban Quezon City, Jan. 10, 2022.
Basilio Sepe/BenarNews

The Philippines set a new record for daily COVID-19 infections Monday as the country was fast closing in on the 3 million mark for cases detected since the pandemic started nearly two years ago, officials indicated.

The country confirmed more than 33,000 new infections on Monday, driving the pandemic total to about 2.99 million, only a week after the government raised the national health-alert status and expanded stricter COVID-19 measures in Metro Manila and surrounding areas. The Philippines also recorded 145 deaths on Monday, bringing the overall toll to more than 52,000.

“The 33,169 is much higher than the projected numbers. Is it on the way to 40,000? Possible, but hopefully not,” said Guido David, a mathematician and a government consultant on COVID-19. “Tomorrow, we will exceed 3 million cases.”

The new record follows daily totals of 26,548 on Saturday and 28,707 on Sunday – all three topped the previous record of 26,208 infections on Sept. 11, 2021. Health officials said they had expected higher numbers because of the likely spread of the Omicron variant.

Most of the recent COVID-19 infections were recorded in Manila and surrounding areas, where the government had imposed curbs on movements since the holidays, according to health officials. Around the capital and elsewhere on Monday, long lines formed at drug stores even as most establishments ran out of over-the-counter flu medications.

The explosion of new cases – more than 88,000 since Saturday – has affected government operations. Several key government officials were in isolation while hospitals issued advisories saying that they were close to being overwhelmed.

Among those isolating because of exposure to others who tested positive were Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, Health Secretary Francisco Duque II and Carlito Galvez Jr., who heads the nation’s COVID-19 task force.

Meanwhile, acting presidential spokesman Karlo Nograles said the government might introduce a new round of curbs and possibly expand its lockdown orders even as vaccinations are ramped up.

During an interview with ANC News, Nograles said the government needed to make sure isolation facilities that were established during the early days of the pandemic were available nationwide, according to an official transcript posted online.

“So we need to make them functional again, especially since Omicron. We’re seeing for the vaccinated, for the fully vaccinated the symptoms for Omicron are mild or some are even asymptomatic,” he said.

Millions fully vaccinated

More than 52 million Filipinos were fully vaccinated as of Sunday, government data showed.

On Monday, Vice President Leni Robredo, who has been leading government efforts to carry out free mass testing, said the “sheer number of people who showed up” indicated that many want to know if they have COVID-19.

The government launched free antigen testing last week amid the fresh surge of cases, saying COVID-19 tests should be free and accessible. Robredo said officials hope the testing could help cut coronavirus transmissions. The cost for home-test kits, however, is beyond the reach of ordinary citizens, whose daily minimum wage is about U.S. $10, noted Robredo, a candidate for the 2022 presidential election.

“Many have been exposed. But they do not know if they have been infected until their swab tests become positive,” she told reporters. “It is important that they know whether they are positive or not so they can isolate themselves and not infect others.”

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