Philippines' COVID-19 cases top 491,000

January 13 ------ The number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases in the Philippines rose to 491,258 on Tuesday after the Department of Health (DOH) announced 1,524 new infections as six laboratories failed to submit reports on time. Davao City logged the highest increase with 137 new cases, followed by Quezon City with 109, Rizal with 92, Davao Del Norte with 53, and Cebu City with 51. Total recoveries also hit 458,172 after 44 more patients recovered from the respiratory disease, while the death toll climbed to 9,554 with 139 new fatalities.

This marks the first time since November 9 that three-digit new deaths were recorded. The DOH said 78 cases “previously tagged as recovered were reclassified as deaths.” There are also 23,532 active cases undergoing treatment or quarantine. Experts from the OCTA Research group warned about the possibility of a “significant surge” in cases in the coming weeks following a rise in social gatherings over the holiday season.

The DOH previously said any possible surge would only become evident at the end of this week due to the incubation period of the virus. Meanwhile, the Philippines expanded its travel restrictions to cover China, Pakistan, Jamaica, Luxembourg, and Oman after a new variant of the virus that causes COVID-19 was discovered in those countries. The Philippine Red Cross has also launched a saliva test for COVID-19, which it said would be a “game-changer” as it is less invasive than swab tests.