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Fewer people getting tested for COVID-19 slows infection rate

THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 891 coronavirus infections on Sunday, bringing the total to 477,807.

The death toll rose by four to 9,257, while recoveries increased by 8,316 to 448,258, it said in a bulletin.

There were 20,292 active cases, 80.9% of which were mild, 8.2% were asymptomatic, 6.7% were critical, 3.6% were severe and 0.58% were moderate.

Davao City reported the highest number of new cases at 65, followed by Rizal at 55, Isabela at 50, Manila at 40 and Quezon City at 37. Eleven laboratories failed to submit their data on Jan. 2, DoH said.

Fewer people being tested during the holidays led to the low case number, it said.

“The DOH reminds the public to be cautious in interpreting these numbers as an increase in cases in the coming weeks is still possible,” it said.

Health authorities said they continue to assess the effects of the holiday season on coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) transmission. “The DOH asks all stakeholders to be vigilant in guarding against complacency in the fight against COVID-19.” The Philippines last week banned foreign travelers from 20 countries where a more infectious strain of the coronavirus has been detected.

The ban initially covered Britain and was expanded on Dec. 29 to include Hong Kong, South Korea, Singapore, Japan, Israel, Lebanon, Canada, South Africa, Switzerland, Italy, Denmark, Spain, Ireland, The Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Australia, France, and Iceland.

The government extended the ban to the United States on Jan. 1.

Filipino citizens coming from these countries may enter the Philippines, subject to quarantine and testing, according to the presidential palace. The ban will run until Jan. 15.

DoH on Saturday said the Philippine Genome Center  (PGC) had not detected the UK variant in the country and positive specimens of those coming from countries with the new strain would undergo genome sequencing on Monday to check for the new strain. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas

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