Philippines reports record-high 34,021 new COVID-19 cases

MANILA, January 14 ------ The Philippines on Thursday reported a record-high 34,021 new COVID-19 cases, raising the country's total confirmed infections to 3,092,409, data from the Department of Health showed. The positivity rate was at 47.9 percent, based on test results of samples from 78,866 people on Jan. 11, Tuesday, according to the latest DOH case bulletin. This is the highest since testing data became available, said Edson Guido, head of the ABS-CBN Data Analytics Team. Seven laboratories, which contribute on average 5 percent of samples tested and 6.6 percent of positive cases, were unable to submit their data, the DOH said.

Of the newly reported cases, 33,456 or 98 percent occurred within the recent 14 days. The top regions with cases in the recent two weeks are Metro Manila (16,793 cases), Calabarzon (7,131 cases) and Central Luzon (3,745 cases). The country's active infections climbed to 237,387, the highest since the pandemic began, which account for 7.7 percent of the cumulative total, according to DOH data. They are broken down as follows: 298 critical, 1,468 severe, 2,881 moderate, 225,408 mild, and 7,332 asymptomatic.

COVID-related deaths increased by 82 to 52,736. Of the new fatalities, 37 occurred this month, five last December, two in November, six in October, 13 in September, four in August, two in July, one in May, seven in April, two each in March and January last year, and one in April 2020. This is the lowest daily tally of deaths since Jan. 9 when 15 deaths were announced, according to the ABS-CBN Investigative and Research Group.

Meanwhile, there were 4,694 more recoveries, raising the total number of recuperations to 2,802,286. This is also the lowest daily figure since Jan. 11 when the DOH reported 4,471 recoveries, the research group said. The DOH said 246 duplicates, including 180 recoveries, were removed from the total case count, while 44 cases previously tagged as recuperations were reclassified as deaths after final validation, the DOH said.

The intensive care unit (ICU) bed utilization rate in Metro Manila and nationwide was at 58 percent and 45 percent, respectively. Ventilators are 26 percent and 19 percent utilized in the capital region and across the country, respectively. Metro Manila's isolation beds and ward beds for COVID-19 patients are 54 percent and 66 percent used up, respectively. Nationwide, their utilization rates are 46 percent and 45 percent, respectively. The country's COVID-19 referral system receives "more than 1,120" calls per day as virus infections increased beginning end of last month, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo Vega said.

Only 15 percent of the calls were referred to hospitals and intensive care unit services, he added. "Ito dahil sa bagong bilang ngayon, mataas masyado, talagang dumami ang number of calls. Mga 60 percent ng calls naghahanap ng quarantine or isolation facility or nagpapa-assist sa home isolation," he said during a virtual public briefing. The center is also gradually increasing its number of isolation facilities for healthcare workers and the public after some ended their contracts last Dec. 31, Vega said.

The public may access the COVID-19 treatment drug bexovid, the generic version of Pfizer's Paxlovid, through the Department of Health and a prescription of their doctor, the Food and Drug Administration said.