ONE more patient infected with the Delta coronavirus variant has died, bringing the death toll to three, Health authorities said on Monday.
The 78-year-old patient from Baybay, Antique province in central Philippines was tagged as recovered on July 16 but was later reported as a death, Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire told reporters in a Viber message. The patient died on May 28.
A crew member of a foreign vessel died of the Delta variant on May 19 and a 58-year-old female resident of Manila died on June 28, she said.
Of the 35 Delta variant patients in the country, including 11 locally acquired cases, 32 have recovered, Ms. Vergeire said.
She said the city of Manila had traced three dozen contacts of the two Delta variant patients from the city. A stricter lockdown could be imposed in some areas, but not the entire city, she added.
Still, only a granular lockdown is advised for Manila City, Ms. Vergeire said separately in a televised news briefing. “But everyday, we will be assessing the situation if there is a need to escalate restrictions, she said in mixed English and Filipino.
Anthony C. Leachon, a former pandemic official, earlier said local transmission of the Delta variant might have been underreported in the absence of genome surveillance studies particularly in hotspots outside the National Capital Region.
Philippine Genome Center Executive Director Cynthia P. Saloma had said the agency could only sequence 750 samples weekly.
Ms. Vergeire said the agency could test 1,500 samples weekly once it gets more machines. The center would extend its capacity to its networks in the Visayas and Mindanao.
“The ideal when you do whole genome sequencing is to be able to do it among at least 5% of positive cases in the country,” she said. “We are not at 1% tayo and we aim to expand our capacity to reach the ideal number.”
At the same briefing, Health Undersecretary Leopoldo J. Vega said the government was trying to find ways to provide high-risk areas high-flow oxygen machines.
About 55% of intensive care unit (ICU) beds in the country had been used as of July 18, presidential spokesman Herminio L. Roque, Jr. told the same briefing.
About 46% of isolation beds and 43% of ward beds in the country had been occupied, he added.
Mr. Roque said about 42% of ICU beds in Metro Manila had been used. He added that 39% of isolation beds and 33% of ward beds in the capital region had been occupied.
The Department of Health (DoH) reported 5,651 coronavirus infections on Monday, bringing the total to 1.51 million.
The death toll rose to 26, 786 after 72 more patients died, while recoveries increased by 5,332 to 1.44 million, it said in a bulletin.
There were 47,561 active cases, 91.9% of which were mild, 1.9% were asymptomatic, 2.7% were severe, 1.88% were moderate and 1.6% were critical.
The agency said 10 duplicates had been removed from the tally, seven of which were tagged as recoveries.
Eighty-eight recoveries were reclassified as active cases, while 39 recoveries were reclassified as deaths. Six laboratories failed to submit data on July 17. — Kyle Aristophere T. Atienza