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Virus outbreak hits Batanes, another QC seminary

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As Batanes was placed under enhanced community quarantine from Sept. 20 to Oct. 4 due to the rising number of COVID-19 cases in the province, another coronavirus outbreak was reported Tuesday in Quezon City at the Christ the King Mission Seminary, where nine priests and 16 employees tested positive, with one death.

This was as the Palace on Tuesday said it was unlikely that areas in Metro Manila would still be under granular lockdowns by the time the May 9, 2002 elections are held.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said he was confident that as more people get vaccinated, lockdowns would not be a problem for the Commission on Elections.

At least 3,000 families are under granular lockdowns in Metro Manila, as the region tested a new strategy to arrest the spread of COVID-19 and spur business activity.

“What we did in granular lockdowns is we really separated only the areas with infections. Around 3,093 families are currently affected,” said Metropolitan Manila Development Authority chairman Benhur Abalos.

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The Philippines logged 16,361 new COVID-19 cases Tuesday, bringing the total number of infections to 2,401,916.

The Department of Health said the relatively low new-case count yesterday was due to lower laboratory output on Sunday, Sept. 19.

Batanes announced its ECQ via social media late Monday. The Provincial COVID-19 Task Force Group said all inbound passenger flights are cancelled until further notice to allow health workers and frontliners to address the community transmission in the province.

The local government announced the first community transmission on Sept. 16.

In Quezon City, another religious building reported an outbreak following the rash of 114 cases at the Religious of the Virgin Mary (RVM) convent in Cubao.

Dr. Rolando Cruz of the City Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit reported an outbreak inside the Christ the King seminary, “where almost half of its population [of 59] were infected.”

Of these, 34 tested negative, while 25 were positive.

As of Sept. 18, 11 COVID-19 patients at the seminary were able to recover, 13 remained active and one, a priest, died due to the virus.

Across the country, there were 140 new fatalities, bringing the COVID-19 death toll to 37,074.

The DOH also reported 21,974 persons who recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 2,193,700.

Also on Tuesday, health experts said “breakthrough infections” of fully vaccinated people were caused by the more transmissible Delta variant of COVID-19, and not due to inferior vaccine brands.

“The rise in breakthrough infection is not because of waning vaccine efficacy, it is because of the Delta variant,” said Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the DOH technical advisory group, during a Palace briefing.

“The efficacy of all vaccines against severe COVID-19 remains very high,” he said in Filipino.

Molecular biologist Dr. Nicanor Austriaco, a member of the OCTA Research Group, said from their studies conducted in Davao City, they found out that “all the vaccines’ efficacy rate against severe COVID-19 cases is at 97 percent.”

“So, I would say all the vaccines are incredibly powerful. Any vaccine is better than no vaccine,” said Austriaco, in the same briefing.

There were 171,142 active cases in the country, of which 92.4 percent were mild, 2.8 percent were asymptomatic, 0.6 percent were critical, 1.4 percent were severe, and 2.69 percent were moderate.

The positivity rate was at 27 percent, based on the results of 48,262 people screened for the virus on Sunday.

Nationwide, 78 percent of the ICU beds, 67 percent of the isolation beds, 73 percent of the ward beds, and 58 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

In Metro Manila, 78 percent of the ICU beds, 63 percent of the isolation beds, 73 percent of the ward beds, and 64 percent of the ventilators, were in use.

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