THE DEPARTMENT of Health (DoH) reported 457 new coronavirus infections on Wednesday, bringing the total to 27,238.

The death toll rose to 1,108 after five more patients died, while 268 more patients have gotten well, bringing the total recoveries to 6,820, it said in a bulletin.

Of the new cases, 342 were reported in the past three days while 115 were reported late, DoH said.

Health Undersecretary Maria Rosario S. Vergeire said pharmaceutical company Unilab, Inc. donated a modular laboratory which was placed at the Veterans Memorial Medical Center and can process 300 tests daily.

She said some modular laboratories in the Visayas and Mindanao have applied for licensing.

There were now 60 laboratories licensed to test coronavirus samples.

Ms. Vergeire on Monday said the government aims to test 1.5% of the country’s more than 100 million people by July.

She also said 288 patients from 20 hospitals had been enrolled in the solidarity trial for drugs led by the World Health Organization.

Also yesterday, Senator Franklin M. Drilon asked the budget department to increase funding for the health sector amid a coronavirus pandemic.

“If we learned anything about the onset of the pandemic, it is that the health sector must get a big part of the budgetary pie,” he said in a statement. “The health of the people is the state’s responsibility.”

DoH proposed a P182-billion budget for next year, in line with the implementation of a law on universal healthcare.

Mr. Drilon also opposed a recommendation by Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) President Ricardo C. Morales to defer the enforcement of the law due to budget constraints.

“To halt the implementation of a law that would promote access to affordable care, strengthen our primary health care and make our people healthy to fight the virus is a step in the wrong direction,” he said. — Vann Marlo M. Villegas and Charmaine A. Tadalan