By Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza, Reporter

HEALTH authorities on Monday night said 256 more people have been infected with more contagious variants of the coronavirus, though most of them have either died or recovered.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire did not immediately reply to a text message asking why the cases had not been immediately reported.

Two more Filipinos have been infected with the Delta variant of the coronavirus that has triggered a fresh surge in cases in India, bringing the total to 19, the Department of Health (DoH) said.

The two were returning Filipino migrant workers from Saudi Arabia and have since recovered, the agency said in a statement.

The Filipinos arrived in the Philippines on May 29 and had completed a 10-day quarantine period. They have been discharged from the quarantine facility after recovering, DoH said.

The agency said 132 more people have been infected with the Alpha variant of the coronavirus, which was first detected in the United Kingdom, bringing the total to 1,217. Of these, 125 were local cases, one was a returning migrant Filipino, and six were still being verified.

Fifteen of the patients have died and 117 have recovered, it added. 

DoH also reported 119 new cases of the Beta coronavirus variant that was first detected in South Africa, bringing the total to 1,386. Of these, 111 were locals, two were returning overseas Filipinos, and six were still being verified.

Three patients were being treated, 104 have recovered and 12 died, it said.

Three more people have been infected with the Theta coronavirus variant that was first detected in the Philippines, DoH said. All of them have recovered.

The Theta variant is not a “variant of concern” since Health authorities need more data to say whether it is a threat.

DoH reported 4,114 coronavirus infections on Tuesday, bringing the total to 1,445, 832. The death toll rose to 25,296 after 104 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 6,086 to 1.37 million, it said in a bulletin.

There were 49,613 active cases, 90.8% of which were mild, 3.9% did not show symptoms, 1.5% were critical, 2.2% were severe and 1.62% were moderate.

The agency said 28 duplicates had been removed from the tally, 22 of which were tagged as recoveries. Thirty-eight cases tagged as recoveries were reclassified as active cases, while 63 patients tagged as recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Nine laboratories failed to submit data on July 4.

Meanwhile, the government told local governments to prioritize vaccine patients due for their second dose of CoronaVac after China’s Sinovac Biotech Ltd., which makes the vaccine, has said its next delivery would get delayed.

Of 11.7 million vaccines doses given out as of July 4 — 2.8 million second doses and 8.8 million given as first shots — vaccine czar Carlito G. Galvez, Jr. said in a separate statement, citing a “disparity” in the government’s vaccination program.

“We are seeing a disparity in our national vaccination report wherein out of the 11 million jab administered, only 2.8 million were fully vaccinated,” Mr. Galvez said in a statement. “This should be addressed by our implementing units.”

In an advisory from the National Vaccination Operations Center signed by Mr. Galvez on July 4, local authorities were notified of the delays in the arrival of Sputnik V vaccines from Russia and the weekly delivery of CoronaVac vaccines.

The center ordered local governments to completely vaccinate those who have received their first CoronaVac dose until the supply stabilizes. It also asked local authorities to use other vaccines brands for first shots.

“We have to look into this matter seriously and act on it fast because based on studies, the full protection against the new variants of COVID-19 (coronavirus disease 2019), particularly the Delta variant, can only be assured when an individual is fully vaccinated with two doses,” Mr. Galvez said.

About 12 million doses of coronavirus vaccines have been given out, Vivencio B. Dizon, deputy chief enforcer of the government’s pandemic response. About one million doses had been given out in the past four days, he told a televised news briefing.

The Philippines has received about 17.4 million vaccines, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. said on Monday. A million AstraZeneca vaccines donated by Japan and 170,000 Sputnik V vaccines bought from Russia are set to arrive this week.

About 1.1 million health workers, 897,719 seniors and 788,630 seriously ill people had received their second doses as of July 2. About 26,109 essential workers and 227 indigent Filipinos have also been fully vaccinated.