The COVID-19 fatalities in the Philippines breached the 7,000-mark on Monday, while the country's cumulative total of confirmed infections climbed to 371,630, the Department of Health data showed.
The DOH reported 62 additional fatalities due to the infectious disease, bringing the death toll to 7,039.
The country reported its first COVID-19 death on Feb. 1, which was also the first fatality related to the illness recorded outside mainland China where the virus causing it first emerged.
The country's total cases climbed by 1,607 from the previous day, although Monday's figures do not include data from 16 laboratories that failed to submit their results on time.
The DOH also reported 245 additional recovered patients or a total of 328,258 recoveries.
The active COVID-19 cases in the country stood at 36,333.
This is the 10th straight day that additional cases were below 3,000.
While the country recorded its lowest daily tally since Sept. 7 last week, it also saw the highest number of deaths recorded in the last two weeks at 132 on October 23.
On Monday morning, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario Vergeire said they had been monitoring Mindanao.
“Yes there are an increasing number of cases in certain areas in Mindanao,” she said. However, she explained that the region could still manage its patients.
“We had a meeting yesterday with the regional task force of Region 11,” she added.
The areas with the highest number of new infections were Davao City with 90, Cavite with 88, Rizal with 74, and Negros Occidental and Quezon with 68 each.
Meanwhile, the Phase 3 clinical trials for the World Health Organization Solidarity Trial in the Philippines would start in December, Vergeire said.
“The WHO gave its commitment that the announcement of sites for clinical trials in the Philippines and other details will be given within this week,” Vergeire added.
Vergeire said that Russian vaccine manufacturer Gamaleya, for its part, was still in talks with a Philippine-based contract research organization, which will represent Gamaleya in the Philippines for possible local manufacturing of vaccines against COVID-19.
Earlier, the Vaccine Expert Panel under the Department of Science and Technology already cleared Chinese vaccine Sinovac for COVID-19 clinical trials.
Sinovac would still have to get approval from the Ethics Board before it gets to apply for Food and Drug Administration (FDA) clearance for a clinical trial in the Philippines.
The VEP reviews the Phase 1 and 2 clinical trials of the candidate vaccine, while the Ethics Board evaluates the selection for participants for clinical trials, among other safeguards that the vaccine manufacturer provided for the participants.
The Duterte administration has initially earmarked P2.5 billion for the purchase of COVID-19 vaccines under the proposed 2021 national budget, an amount which is at least P10 billion short of the required funding as estimated by the Department of Health.
There are 2,531 clusters of COVID-19 cases as of October 25 in the Philippines, most of them in communities, DOH said.
Vergeire said of the number, 84.6 percent or 2,140 were in communities, 4.7 percent in hospitals and health facilities, 1.7percent or 43 in jails, and 9 percent or 229 in other settings.
The clustering of cases is seen in the Zamboanga peninsula, Cordillera Administrative Region, Central Luzon, Central Visayas, Eastern Visayas and Bangsamoro Region, Vergeire said.
Vergeire clarified the latest report on clustering of cases did not include Dr. Jose Fabella Memorial Hospital in Manila which was closed from October 24 to 27 for disinfection after 10 of its health workers tested positive for COVID-19.
Vergeire, however, said the situation in Fabella was manageable.
As data and science-backed information prove to be integral in the global response against COVID-19, DOH enhanced the format of the COVID-19 case bulletins to make it simple, compact, and easy to understand.
The communications messages also prioritize relevant information and call for action to guide the public on how to avoid and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
According to Vergeire, these iterations in the reporting of case bulletins aim to maintain transparency in reporting the data.
Through the information that the DOH will communicate, the public will be more informed and empowered as they conduct their daily affairs, instead of succumbing to fear, panic, and anxiety during the health crisis.
“Through the enhanced reporting of our case bulletins, we hope to equip the public by updating them with data that not only has integrity, but also easy to understand,” said Vergeire.
One of the revisions included in the reporting of case bulletins includes enhancing the content by emphasizing the most sought for information, such as reporting in percentages to create a more convenient way of informing the public on the numbers of cases and recoveries.
The Department of Foreign Affairs said more than 230, 000 overseas Filipinos had been repatriated amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a statement, the DFA said a total of 231, 026 Filipinos have been repatriated since February this year, 154, 957 of them are land-based workers while 76, 069 are sea-based workers.
The latest figures included the 7, 732 repatriates who have been brought home last week, 6,344 of them coming from the Middle East.
Of the 6, 344, the DFA said 5, 622 came from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
"There were also 312 stranded Agro studies students who were repatriated from Israel last October 21 and 24," the DFA said, adding the repatriation flight was arranged by the country's embassy in Tel Aviv and the MASHAV aid agency of Israel.
Also repatriated last week were 851 Filipinos from Asia and the Pacific, 534 from Europe and three from the United States.
"Medical repatriations from Texas USA and Brisbane, Australia were also successfully conducted amid the challenges brought by the pandemic," the DFA stressed.
According to the department, the repatriation flights will continue as it called on Filipinos who want to avail of the repatriation flights to just inform the Philippine embassies or consulates in their areas.