RESIDENTS of Old Balara go to Old Balara Elementary school during the continuation of the vaccination program for the A1 to A3 categories on May 3. — PHILIPPINE STAR/ MICHAEL VARCAS
THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 7,174 coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total to 1.1 million.
The death toll rose by 204 to 18,472, while recoveries increased by 9,197 to 1.02 million, it said in a bulletin.
There were 61,294 active cases, 1.3% of which were critical, 93.8% were mild, 2.1% did not show symptoms, 1.7% were severe and 1.07% were moderate.
DoH said 33 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 28 of which were tagged as recoveries and one as death. It added that 149 recoveries were reclassified as deaths.
About 11.5 million Filipinos have been tested for the coronavirus as of May 7, according to DoH’s tracker website.
The coronavirus has sickened about 158.3 million and killed 3.3 million people worldwide, according to the Worldometers website, citing various sources including data from the World Health Organization.
About 135.8 million people have recovered, it said.
Meanwhile, researchers from the country’s premier university have flagged rising coronavirus infections in southern Philippines, even as the surge in the capital region and nearby provinces have eased.
“Areas of concern” include Puerto Princesa, Cagayan de Oro, Zamboanga City and Bacolod, Fredegusto Guido P. David, a research fellow at the OCTA Research Group from the University of the Philippines told DZMM radio on Sunday.
Small local governments have been better at managing the pandemic, he said, adding that there was no reason to be alarmed yet.
Mr. David expects the daily infection tally in Metro Manila and nearby areas to fall to fewer than 2,000 by next week.
The tally has declined to an average of 2,100 from a peak of 5,500, he said, adding that the government could probably afford to ease the lockdown in these areas once it falls further to less than 2,000.
Metro Manila had a virus reproduction rate of 0.67 and the weekly growth rate had dropped by 27%, Mr. David said.
He said the government should keep the easing infection trend while it boosts its vaccination program.
DoH earlier traced the lower tally in the past weeks to fewer samples being tested by laboratories.
President Rodrigo R. Duterte placed the metro and the provinces of Bulacan, Cavite, Laguna and Rizal under an enhanced community quarantine from March 29 to April 11, and under a modified enhanced lockdown from April 12 to May 14 amid a fresh surge in infections.
The Health department on April 2 reported the highest daily tally of 15,310 cases since the pandemic started last year.
Meanwhile, about half-a-million close contacts of more than 100,000 coronavirus patients in the country had been traced in the last two weeks of April, according to government data.
About 245,00 people who got in contact with 51,350 coronavirus-positive people in the National Capital Region had been traced, based on data sent by contact-tracing czar Benjamin B. Magalong.
In the Southern Tagalog region, about 79,000 contacts of almost 18,000 people infected with the virus had been traced.
The data showed 31,686 close contacts had been traced in Central Luzon, 18,905 in Western Visayas, 15,914 in Zamboanga Peninsula, 12,831 in Cagayan Valley, 12,151 in Caraga, 11,779 in the Davao region, 11,309 in Central Visayas and 9,720 in the Ilocos region.
The Department of Interior and Local Government (DILG) continues to study the government’s contact-tracing system StaySafe.PH.
An application developed by Apple and Google will be integrated with StaySafe, it said.
Mr. Magalong earlier said about 5,000 new contact tracers would be trained this month. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza