By Vann Marlo M. Villegas, Reporter
THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) expects more coronavirus infections by mid-January as testing laboratories become fully operational after the holidays.
Some labs failed to submit data because these were closed during the holidays, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told an online news briefing on Monday. Fewer people also got tested last month, she added.
Average laboratory submissions during the holidays fell to about 22,000 from 36,000 daily, she said.
“We are expecting, if and when this surge really happens, that it will materialize in mid-January,” Ms. Vergeire said in mixed English and Filipino.
She said that positive cases nationwide during the holidays dropped by 5%, while cases in Metro Manila declined by 4%.
“We expect normalcy to come back and we will witness a real trend in the number of case because all laboratories will become fully operational starting today,” Ms. Vergeire said.
She also said DoH suspended the license of one laboratory for failing to submit coronavirus test results. “We were able to suspend the license of one of the big laboratories last Dec. 29 because of its continuous noncompliance with our reportorial requirement.”
She added that four other laboratories could face similar suspensions. She did not identify the labs.
DoH reported 959 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 478,761.
The death toll rose to 9,263 after six more patients died, while recoveries increased by 26 to 448,279, it said in a bulletin.
There were 21,219 active cases, 81.7% of which were mild, 7.9% did not show symptoms, 6.4% were critical, 3.4% were severe and 0.57% were moderate.
Quezon City reported the highest number of new cases at 73, followed by Davao City at 70, Rizal at 58, Agusan del Sur at 44 and Laguna at 41.
DoH said five duplicates had been removed from the tally, while one recovered case was reclassified as a death. Three laboratories failed to submit their data on Jan. 3, it added.
Meanwhile, DoH urged local governments to work with the National Government in procuring and deploying coronavirus vaccines.
Ms. Vergeire said only the National Government can order vaccines that were given emergency use authority (EUA) by the local Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
“We urge local governments to work with us, because we can pool the funds and the National Government can procure and we can have an effective distribution system,” she said.
The city of Manila has started a pre-registration for free vaccines, allotting P200 million, while Makati City has allotted P1 billion for free vaccines, while San Juan City has allocated P50 million, according to news reports. Pasig City Mayor Victor Ma. Regis N. Sotto said the city had allocated P300 million.