Health officials reported 1,006 new COVID-19 cases Friday, 788 of which were “fresh” or newly validated, and 218 of which were late results, bringing the total number of infections since the pandemic began to 34,073.
Friday’s “fresh” tally was just one case short of the highest single-day record of fresh cases of 789 on June 23.
At the same time, the Department of Health reported that 274 patients recovered from COVID-19 on Friday, bringing the total number of recoveries to 9,182.
Twelve more fatalities were reported Friday, bringing the death toll to 1,224.
Manila City Mayor Francisco Domagoso, meanwhile, said the COVID-19 spread in his city has reached a plateau, almost a month after community quarantine restrictions were relaxed in Metro Manila.
“For the past three weeks starting with the GCQ (general community quarantine), the COVID presence in Manila plateaued. It has not gotten bigger, it did not go down either. The numbers were just maintained,” Domagoso said in Filipino during an interview on ABS-CBN’s TeleRadyo.
“I hope that Manila residents listening will not relax,” Domagoso said.
As of Thursday, Manila had the third highest COVID-19 tally in the country, with 2,073 cases.
The city opened its own COVID-19 testing facility at the Sta. Ana Hospital on Thursday.
Domagoso said even though Manila is under a GCQ, some barangays in the city are sometimes placed under a temporary lockdown if numbers of positive cases there are high.
On the other hand, Domagoso said the bed capacity of the quarantine facilities in Manila has not been filled up, which he said is “very good news.”
Meanwhile, Environment Secretary Roy Cimatu ordered a lockdown in the entire central office of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) on Visayas Avenue, Quezon City after two employees tested positive for COVID-19.
The agency will disinfect the premises and conduct contact tracing to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within the agency’s compound, Cimatu said.
He issued the directive while supervising the government’s COVID-19 response in Cebu City.
Undersecretary Benny Antiporda said the COVID-positive employees are assigned at the Environmental Management Bureau, which is located within the DENR compound.
“The two personnel were part of the skeleton force of the EMB, and they work directly with the office of the EMB director,” he said.
Intensified sanitation procedures have been conducted during the lockdown, apart from the regular disinfection being done thrice a week at the DENR office grounds since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The lockdown is good for only two and a half days to enable the agency’s skeleton workforce to immediately resume work on June 29, Antiporda said.
EMB director William Cuñado said all employees of the bureau will undergo self-quarantine for two weeks starting June 26 as a precautionary measure.
He said the EMB would continue to implement the alternative work arrangements as prescribed by the Civil Service Commission to ensure the safety and health not only of the employees, but also of its stakeholders.
“We encourage our stakeholders to continue their transactions with EMB by maximizing our online services,” he added.
Also on Friday, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) said it has stepped up preparations for the repatriation of the remains of 301 overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) who died from various causes in Saudi Arabia.
Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III assured families of the OFWs that the bodies will be flown home by early next month after he was able to secure the approval of the Inter Agency Task Force for the repatriation of even the 152 OFWs who died from COVID-19.
Bello said part of the preparations is the set of protocols from the Department of Health for the handling, reception and domestic transport of the COVID-19 casualties and the 149 non-COVID fatalities.
He said the three Philippine Overseas Labor Offices (POLOs) will have to abide by the strict guidelines of both the Saudi and Philippine governments in the transport of the remains.
Based on initial preparations, two chartered planes will separately fly the COVID dead and those who died of non-COVID causes. The bodies will be transported from various points to Riyadh and Jeddah, and will be flown back to the country by the second week of July.
DOLE will notify the families of the arrival of the remains of their loved ones, along with their respective local government units to allow their domestic transport.
Upon arrival in the country, the bodies of COVID-19 victims will be transported with the help of the Department of National Defense directly to the crematoriums of their family’s choice.
The remains of those who died of natural or other causes, meanwhile, can be fetched at the airport by their respective families.
In related developments:
* The Taguig City government will be conduct swab tests on judges and other personnel at the city’s Hall of Justice after a court worker tested positive for coronavirus disease. The move came after members of the judiciary and several court employees reported possible exposure of several of their colleagues to a positive case. Local government officials said court operations and other services will continue online.
* More than 16,000 Filipino and foreign seafarers who disembarked from cruise ships that arrived and anchored at the Manila Bay since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic have been cleared of the coronavirus, the Bureau of Immigration said. BI Seaport Operations Chief Alnazib Decampong said that of the 16,287 seafarers cleared by BI boarding inspectors, 11,189 are Filipinos and 5,098 are foreigners. Decampong said the seafarers disembarked from 42 vessels between April 16 to June 15 after they were quarantined and tested for COVID-19 aboard their ships. He added that around 2,300 seafarers are still awaiting repatriation and remain quarantined aboard their vessels.