The Philippines logged on Wednesday 64 new fatalities due to the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), breaching the 10,000 death toll mark, the Department of Health reported.
The new fatalities bring the death toll to 10,042, which is 1.98 percent of the total number of cases.
The DOH also reported 1,862 new cases of COVID-19, bringing the total to 505,939, as two laboratories failed to submit their data on time, the DOH said.
There are 28,904 active cases, which is 5.7 percent of the total cases. Of the active cases, 84.9 percent are mild; 7.5 percent are asymptomatic; 4.5 percent are critical; 2.6 percent are severe; and 0.39 percent are moderate.
The DOH also reported that 765 persons have newly recovered, based on the government’s “mass recovery adjustment”, bringing the total recoveries to 466,993, which is 92.3 percent of the total cases.
The mother and girlfriend of the Filipino male – he flew in from the United Arab Emirates last January 7 – who tested positive for the UK variant of the new coronavirus tested positive for COVID-19, the DOH said on Wednesday.
Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said the results of the tests on the mother and girlfriend were sent to the Philippine Genome Center to determine if they were also infected with the UK variant, which is reportedly more transmissible.
“The earliest we could give an update if they have a UK variant is Thursday night or Friday morning),” Vergeire said.
Vergeire said that while another close contact of the Filipino male had tested positive for COVID-19, authorities discovered that it was unlikely that his results would be sent to the Philippine Genome Center since the said close contact was a recovering COVID-19 patient.
Out of the 213 close contacts of the Filipino male who tested positive for the UK variant, six have yet to be located by authorities. The rest, however, have been tested for COVID-19 and are isolated just like the male Filipino.
But the DOH said there were now 13 people who had tested positive for COVID-19 among contacts of the man confirmed to be the first case of the new coronavirus variant in the Philippines.
Eight co-passengers of the man aboard Emirates Dubai-Manila Flight EK332 tested positive for COVID-19 upon arrival here in the country, the DOH said.
The DOH confirmed that five close contacts of the first confirmed UK variant case in the country also tested positive for the disease.
The eight co-passengers are all Filipino citizens who were tested via RT-PCR and quarantined upon arrival. Upon the release of positive RT-PCR results, the eight passengers were immediately transferred to isolation facilities and their samples were secured from confirming laboratories for whole-genome sequencing to determine the presence of the UK variant.
The Philippine Red Cross expects authorization of the saliva-based coronavirus testing within the week, one of its officials said Wednesday.
"We expect we will receive approval this week from FDA and DOH),” Dr. Paulyn Ubial said during an interview on ABS-CBN’s Teleradyo.
Ubial, who leads PRC's molecular laboratory, said the humanitarian organization had recently completed its pilot run of the saliva-based testing method from over 1,000 samples.
PRC also registered the kits they used in the testing to FDA for certification, she added.
Should the Philippine government allow saliva test for COVID-19 diagnosis, Ubial said other laboratories could follow suit.
The groups of midwives and pharmacists are ready to step up to the plate in the government’s vaccination plan against COVID-19.
“We are happy that we are being considered by the government to be part of this and we’re willing to help and support the program and its proper implementation,” said Gilda Sebua Saljay, president of the Philippine Pharmacists Association, in a mix of Pilipino and English.
Saljay said in an interview on TeleRadyo Tuesday that they were in talks with the DOH on their deployment plan. The government plans to vaccinate 50 to 70 million people this year.
“Pharmacists are now being included for the deployment of this COVID-19 vaccine. This is the opportune time for us to really implement our law—Pharmacy law,” she said.
In the same interview, Corazon Paras, president of the Integrated Midwives Association, shared her group’s readiness to help the government in its vaccination plan against COVID-19 but also wanted formal training to be conducted first.
Paras said there were about 176,000 registered pharmacists in the country but they have yet to get formal communications from the Department of Health.
The Filipino Nurses United (FNU) on Wednesday called for an increased protection of nurses amid the rising number of coronavirus disease 2019 cases in the country.
FNU expressed concern that nurses make up half of the daily new COVID-19 cases among health workers which, it said, is a glaring indication of “inadequate protection and neglect on the safety and welfare of nurses.”
“The Filipino nurses, being in constant exposure to the COVID-19, should be guaranteed the protection against this exponentially infectious, deadly virus, especially now with the existence of the new variant in the country,” FNU said in a statement.
The group lamented that after almost 11 months of the pandemic, the government still has no clear strategy to provide ample protection to its frontline health workers.
National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) President Anthony Almeda appealed to lawmakers to allow private companies to import, tax free, doses of the COVID-19 vaccine for the use of its employees adding this will enable businesses to give the economy a much-needed boost in activity.
He also appealed to lawmakers to pass a law encouraging the private sector to provide vaccination to its employees.
“Vaccination, as well as mass testing, is focally critical in the fight against COVID-19. We need to prevent, detect, isolate, and treat. We need to jumpstart the economy now, but we need to ensure that we stack the odds against infections in the workplace,” said Almeda.
NGCP, with a 5,000-strong workforce, continues to monitor the progress and rollout of COVID-19 vaccines in other countries. With Butch Gunio