(UPDATE) The Philippines on Sunday logged a new all-time high of 28,707 new COVID-19 cases in a single day, as shopping malls that are at the center of urban life in Metro Manila cut operating hours.
The day's tally brought active cases to 128,114, with a total of 2,579 new recoveries and 15 new deaths reported, data from the Department of Health showed. It broke the previous all-time high of 26,458 cases the day before.
The DOH reported a 44% positivity rate meaning at least four out of every 10 tests were confirmed to be infected with the virus.
Overall, a total of 2,965,447 COVID-19 cases have been reported since the pandemic began in March 2020, of which 2,785,183 have recovered and 52,150 died.
Metro Manila, Bulacan and several provinces and cities have been upgraded to Alert Level 3 until Jan. 15 as daily infections, believed to be driven by the Omicron variant, approach record highs.
Several malls in Metro Manila have adjusted their operating hours, while commuters and motorists were required to present vaccination cards at checkpoints in the capital region and in Bulacan to help cap the surge in infections.
Health Sec. Francisco Duque III on Saturday floated the possibility of raising Metro Manila's quarantine status to Alert Level 4 as authorities move to cap the surge.
As hospital utilization rate increases with the surge of COVID-19 cases, Malacañang on Sunday said the inter-agency task force on COVID-19 recommended the following measures:
- Implement an increase in the availability of bed capacity in the National Capital Region and surrounding areas;
- Coordinate with the relevant stakeholders to integrate monitoring of the capacity of Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities in its measurement of health systems capacity;
- Ensure that patients needing care are promptly and appropriately referred; and
- Reassess the capacity of Temporary Treatment and Monitoring Facilities, increase their capacity where needed, and remove any referral quotas from hospitals.
The task force also recommended to the COVID-19 Laboratory Network to:
- Increase RT-PCR testing capacity in NCR Plus areas so as to handle the influx of tests by ensuring that laboratories are operational seven days a week;
- Prioritize A2 and A3 populations for testing
- Fast-track applications for Licenses to Operate for new RT-PCR laboratories; and
- Promptly provide commodities for swabbing and testing.
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