THE DEPARTMENT of Health reported 985 new coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 36,438.

The death toll rose to 1,255 after 11 more patients died, while recoveries rose by 270 to 9,956, it said in a bulletin.

Of the new cases, 643 were reported in the past three days, while 342 were reported late.

Two duplicate cases were removed from the total count after validation, the agency said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said the department was still in dialogue with Doctors to the Barrios who condemned the deployment of community doctors to Cebu City, where there has been a spike in infections.

Ms. Vergeire said DoH had “acted within the bounds of its authority” when it ordered the deployment of the doctors because the country is still under a state of public health emergency.

“Assistance and cooperation of all government agencies and local government units are expected in addressing the COVID-19 threat,” she said at an online news briefing.

“Recent spike of ceases in the region has led to more Cebu-centered response,” she said. “However, the primary intent of the doctors to the barrios remains and that is to serve all people in the country.”

Ms. Vergeire in a statement on Sunday said the department would send rural doctors to Cebu City, whose healthcare system had been overwhelmed.

The doctors who will be sent to the central Philippine city are rural health physicians, “ensuring that the municipalities they serve will not be left doctorless during their assignment.”

Doctors to the Barrios batches 36 and 37 said rural doctors had not been consulted and informed through writing.

They also criticized the lack of protocols for the deployment, which they said “contradicts the thrust of the Doctor to the Barrios program,” which the government started in 1993 to address the lack of doctors in the countryside.

Those assigned in Western Visayas will stay in Cebu City from June 30 to Sept. 30, while those in Eastern Visayas were expected to report from June 26 to July 30.

The cities of Cebu and Ormoc, and the provinces of Leyte and Samar were considered COVID-19 hotspots due to a surge in cases. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas