The Philippines on Saturday set a new record-high of active cases at 203,710 as it logged 11,101 new infections of COVID-19.
The active cases, which stood at more than a fifth of the total number of infections, was considered a record-high not only in the country but also in Southeast Asia since the pandemic began over a year ago.
Of the active cases, 96 percent were mild, 2.9 percent asymptomatic, 0.4 percent critical, 0.5 percent severe, and 0.29 percent moderate.
A total of 799 patients recently recovered, bringing the total recoveries to 706,532, while 72 new fatalities were logged.
OCTA research fellow Butch Ong said while the reproduction rate for Metro Manila has been reduced to 1.16 from 1.9 in the past two weeks, it can still be lowered further even with looser quarantine protocols.
Ong said there is still one more week under the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine level to bring down the reproduction rate to below 1.
“We see the reproduction rate slowing down under MECQ. We will know by the middle of next week if we could hit our target (of lower than 1),” he said.
VP under quarantine
Vice President Leni Robredo will go on quarantine after she was exposed to a close-in security who tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was with him in the car, in the elevator, and in the office almost every day this week,” said Robredo in a Facebook post.
“We have regular surveillance antigen testing in the office, and we do follow very strict health protocols but because I was a very close contact, I need to do the required quarantine and do an RT-PCR test after my quarantine,” the Vice President added.
Non-operational hotels as quarantine facilities
Deputy Majority Leader and Quezon City Rep. Jesus Suntay has filed a resolution urging the President to repurpose non-operational hotels into quarantine facilities for COVID-19 patients with mild symptoms.
“The repurposing of the hotels and other accommodation facilities as alternative health facilities can contribute in mitigating the effects of the pandemic in the industry. The rates chargeable by accommodation establishments to persons undergoing quarantine may be regulated by the [Department of Tourism],” Suntay said.
On Thursday, President Rodrigo Duterte said he has the option to use the state’s police powers to take over hotels to increase the available beds for those who contracted the virus but added that “it is not a remedy desired in a democratic state.”
P800m in unpaid hotel charges
The Office of the Civil Defense on Saturday said it has yet to pay P800 million owed to 18 hotels that were converted into COVID-19 quarantine facilities.
OCD administrator Ricardo Jalad said it is now processing the release of the payment to the hotels that were tapped as part of the Oplan Kalinga of the National Task Force against COVID-19.
“We ask the hotels’ management to be patient. We are just finishing the documentation. We have funds allocated to the OCD for this,” Jalad said.
Aliens with entry exemption may enter PH
Foreigners who were given entry exemption document prior to the implementation of last month’s travel ban may now enter the Philippines, the Bureau of Immigration said.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said aliens with entry exemption documents issued by the Department of Foreign Affairs before March 22 are now allowed to enter the country.
“The foreign parent, spouse, and children of Filipinos may enter the country, provided they are traveling with the Filipino principal, and have a valid entry visa,” he said.
The bureau also allows the following aliens with valid entry visas to enter the country: (1) diplomats and members of international organizations with valid 9(e) or 47(a) (2) visas; (2) those involved in medical repatriation endorsed by the DFA and Overseas Workers Welfare Administration (OWWA); (3) seafarers with 9(c) visa for crew change; and (4) those with emergency, humanitarian and analogous cases approved by the chairperson of the NTF or his authorized representative.